Ex-California Officer Jailed in Illegal Search

Appeal-Democrat, Marysville, Calif.

Former Marysville police officer Amy Eleanor Alfred was sentenced Monday to 30 days in jail for her role in the illegal strip search of a drug suspect a year ago on a city street.

Yuba County Judge Julia Scrogin also ordered Alfred to serve 480 hours in a work program that could mean picking up trash along highways or pulling weeds.

The jail sentence is one-third as long as the one Scrogin gave former officer Joshua Hendrickson, who called Alfred to 10th and Chestnut streets last January and told her to put on latex gloves and search the suspect, Stacy Michelle May.

Prosecutor Shiloh Sorbello said he is satisfied with the 30-day sentence, which probably will be cut to 20 days for good behavior. The time will be served on four-day weekends, he said.

Scrogin stayed the sentence while Alfred appeals her conviction. Hendrickson is also appealing, and a decision from a panel of Yuba County judges is not expected for months, said District Attorney Pat McGrath.

While Alfred had no legal defense for what she did, she was the rookie officer at the scene while other officers, older and more experienced, did nothing to prevent the illegal search, Scrogin said.

Scrogin said she initially was inclined to give Alfred 90 days in jail but was influenced by a letter from former Marysville Police Chief Jack Beecham.

In the letter, Beecham called Alfred, who was 29 at the time of the search, a promising young officer. He criticized Police Department training.

"Why didn't the (superior officer, Hendrickson) know the law and if he didn't, why was she expected to know the law? There obviously was a breakdown somewhere, specifically in her training," Beecham wrote.

"I believe that Ms. Alfred made an honest mistake," the former chief wrote.

Alfred had been with the Police Department about 2 1/2 years. It was her first full-time law enforcement job.

Beecham, who retired three months before the incident, praised Alfred's prior record. In coaxing information from a suspect later convicted of child molestation, Alfred showed abilities beyond her age and experience, he said.

Scrogin said Alfred was aware that Hendrickson had previously ordered another female officer to do a similar search -- and that there had been no consequences for Hendrickson.

"It's very obvious to me that she didn't want to do this type of search," Scrogin said. "She was placed in a really bad situation and made the wrong call" by following Hendrickson's order, she said.

But Alfred was less than candid while testifying in her jury trial and did not show remorse, the judge said.

The Yuba County Probation Department had recommended a 90-day sentence as a deterrent to other officers.

Asked by a probation officer if she felt remorse, Alfred responded, "Yes, of course, if that was something that we weren't supposed to do, I feel horrible. I try to treat people with respect," according to a department report.

Alfred said she was sorry if May was embarrassed by the search.

In the report, May, who has previous convictions for methamphetamine possession, said she wanted everyone to know she is doing well in a Chico rehabilitation program.

When asked what punishment she thought Hendrickson and Alfred should get, May said both had already suffered enough, the report said.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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