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Fort Pierce, FL -- In an unprecedented sentence for a police officer, a former cop with the Fort Pierce and Port St. Lucie police departments, was sentenced to life in prison Monday after being convicted of child exploitation.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Micheal Edwin Harding pleaded guilty in February to possession and distribution of material involving sexual exploitation of minors, attempting to coerce and enticing a minor to engage in sexual activity and production of child pornography.

This hero cop was named Officer of the Year in 2011, when he was an officer at the Fort Pierce Police Department. Shortly after he was given the award, Harding left the Fort Pierce Department to join Port St. Lucie in 2012.

The reason for leaving Fort Pierce, was due to the fact that he was found to have been viewing and posting child porn online while sitting in his patrol car during his midnight shifts.

According to court documents, Harding posted multiple images and videos to a chat room on a popular social media application between July 23 and Aug. 4, 2015. The images — later found to be on Harding’s phone — depicted children engaging in sexually explicit acts, according to the Palm Beach Post.

Harding, who is married with three children, would spend his shifts posting child porn with an app called Kik messenger that allowed him to access a chat room called #toddlerfuck, where child porn was viewed and exchanged, according to a report by PINAC.

The nature of the videos investigators found Harding in possession of, is nothing short of horrifying. According to court documents, the videos depicted children as young as 6-years-old being raped by adults.

Officers of the year, as the Free Thought Project has pointed out time and again, raping, murdering, and molesting, is nothing new. However, being given a life sentence is incredibly rare.

Despite being accused of sexual assault back in 2007, Champaign Police Officer Jerad Gale was just given his department's highest honor in March. On March 30, Gale was named Champaign's Officer of the Year.

Just three months later he would be arrested for strangling and raping two more women.

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A former Houston Police Department ‘Officer of the Year’ award winner, Noe Juarez, was arrested last year and was indicted on federal charges of conspiracy to possess firearms connected with a drug trafficking offense and conspiracy to distribute five or more kilos of cocaine.

Jonathan Bleiweiss, 34, pleaded guilty to an array of charges last year, admitting to 14 counts of armed false imprisonment, 15 counts of battery and four counts of stalking. However, he avoided all of the charges with "sex" in them.

Most likely due to his police officer status, this former Broward Sheriff's deputy was given an insultingly lenient plea deal. As part of that deal, Bleiweiss did not face charges of sexual battery, and as such will not be required by the state of Florida to register as a sex offender.

A group of approximately 20 undocumented immigrants alleged that Bleiweiss, harassed them, molested them during pat-downs, and threatened them with deportation if they refused to perform sex acts. Bleiweiss was named officer of the year just prior to being exposed as a sexual predator.

What exactly led to Harding being handed down a life sentence is unknown. However, it was entirely justified and encouraging to see the blue privilege unable to protect this sicko.

As the Free Thought Project reported last November, an investigation by the AP revealed around 1,000 policemen across the US had their licenses revoked and lost their jobs over the last six years on account of numerous sexual offenses that included rape and possession of child pornography.

The probe revealed that 550 officers were decertified for various sexual assaults, including rape. Some were dismissed for sodomy or sexual shakedowns, where victims were forced to perform sexual acts to avoid arrest.

A further 440 officers lost their jobs for other sex-related offenses, such as possessing child pornography, being a peeping Tom, sending sexually charged messages to underage teens or having sex while on duty.

About one-third of the officers lost their jobs for committing sexual offenses with juveniles.

The real number of sexual offenses could, however, be much higher, as AP only looked into registered cases where an officer lost their badge because of an offense. Lawyers and police chiefs acknowledged that some departments let the sexual assaults slide to limit their liability, allowing their staff to quietly resign or transfer to other duty stations or departments.

Furthermore, the probe notes that not all decertified officers faced criminal charges as some policemen surrendered their badges voluntarily to avoid a potential scandal.