Escambia County, FL — An Escambia County Sheriff’s Office (ECSO) deputy was fired last week after it was discovered he stole money orders he found in a car he pulled over during a routine traffic stop. Fired after four years on the job, ECSO deputy William Christopher Henley, 37, was arrested the same day of the theft and charged with larceny, burglary, dealing in stolen property and fraud.
Henley was booked into the Escambia County Jail and was disallowed bond and remains jailed awaiting his arraignment. Not surprisingly it was the citizen, not the police, who discovered the very officer who pulled over her boyfriend was the person who had stolen her blank money orders, filled in his name, and cashed them. A woman told police her boyfriend was pulled over by Henley and arrested on outstanding warrants. She knew the money orders were in the car and inquired about them with Western Union.
The financial services and communication company (Western Union) told the woman a person by the name of “William Henley” already cashed the two money orders she had purchased. The amounts of the money orders totaled $700, one for $200 and one for $500. She notified ECSO and an investigation ensued. According to NorthEscambia.com, Henley was caught on camera while on duty, committing the crime:
ECSO investigators obtained surveillance photos from Navy Federal that showed Henley in uniform depositing the money orders.
The ECSO redacted portions of the police report where Henley was questioned about the crime so the public has no idea what he said to investigators who were interviewing him following the alleged crime. The report does mention Henley also put his own home address on the money orders.
Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan addressed the public with the shameful news one of his own was a crook.
We are always saddened that someone in law enforcement is engaged in criminal activity,” said Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan. “The bottom line is that there is no place in our ranks for someone who breaks the laws.
In 2019, Henley was awarded the MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Drivers) award for making 100 DUI arrests. We could not help but scratch our heads and wonder how many of those 100 arrests also financially benefited the officer. How much more has he stolen? How often has he done this in the past? A person going by the name Victimized 2018 left the following comment on the NorthExcambia.com story page:
This is not the only person with ECSO lining their pockets by stealing.. I was arrested last year on an old warrent and took my pocketbook bc I figured I would need my license at some point. Never did I dream that when I got out 2 days later and retrieved my “property”. Everything was individually accounted for EXCEPT a$100 bill that was in my pocket book. I had other money’s that were filled in on a receipt . $1s-$5s-$10s- $20s and $100. And the amount total of each was pensilled in next to it’s like amount. But there was a big, fat nothing in the $100bill option.!! I did not even pursue the issue. I I figured it would be my word against who..?
The ECSO. Who they gonna believe? The gal that was not happy about being arrested, or the sheriff office…?
Citizens who report such criminal behavior also run the risk of being treated inappropriately simply for questioning the integrity of a law enforcement officer. As we have reported in the past, simply filing a criminal complaint against an officer carries certain risks such as intimidation, threats, and even arrest.
The aforementioned case serves to illustrate just how important it is for motorists to know their rights and be able to safely and effectively stand up to illegal searches and seizures by police officers. Cop apologists might be tempted to think Henley is just a bad apple and this sort of thing does not happen often. However, we beg to differ.
Simply put…police officers can legally steal your possessions anytime they darn well please. The practice is called “Civil Asset Forfeiture” and was designed to punish drug dealers and money launderers by confiscating cash believed to have been used in the commission of a crime until proved otherwise. The practice has now morphed into a legal money grab for police departments and takes place all across the country. We have reported on rappers having cash confiscated while attempting to purchase vehicles in cold hard currency. Musicians who were moving to another state have also had their funds confiscated.
But more troubling seems to be the fact many cops can simply take objects out of a person’s car, or worse still, plant objects (drugs or guns) in a suspect’s car and that person’s life be financially or legally ruined. And there seems to be no protections for motorists to prevent cops from randomly engaging in fishing expeditions (what it’s called when cops ‘toss’ a car looking for evidence).
For our readers we have recommended following Kenny Suitter’s advice to motorists to simply say “I don’t answer questions” and to remain silent. Often times that is enough to get police officers to leave.