East Ridge, TN – An East Ridge police officer who had a sexual relationship with an 18-year-old high school student has been fired from his job, although an internal investigation determined he did not violate any laws or department policies.
According to investigators, then-East Ridge Police Officer Adam Rose, 29, first met the student while they were working together at a grocery store, the Times Free Press reported.
Officer Rose was working as a part-time security officer at the store, and the student was a cashier, WRCB reported.
The student was 17 years old when they first met, but she and Officer Rose did not establish a romantic relationship until two months after she turned 18, according to investigators.
The investigation began on Oct. 25, after an East Ridge High School teacher told school principal Tammy Helton that a student was in a relationship with a police officer, the Times Free Press reported.
Helton contacted the police, and Officer Rose, a two-year veteran of the department, was placed on paid administrative leave the following day.
East Ridge Police Chief J.R. Reed ordered an internal investigation to determine whether or not the woman was a minor at the time the relationship began, as well as whether or not Officer Rose had violated any department policies.
The student’s mother was also aware of the relationship, and had no problem with it, police said.
Investigators determined that the sexual relationship between Officer Rose and the student did not begin until after she was 18, and that Officer Rose had not violated any laws or department policies.
"All we are looking at is what he has done legally and if there was any policy violations, which at this point, everybody agreed there is none," International Brotherhood of Police Officers Southeast Regional Director Vince Champion told the Times Free Press.
"We do not condone by any means having any relationships with underage children. However, this person was not underage,” Champion explained.
On Nov. 19, Chief Reed sent Acting City Manager Kenny Custer a letter recommending that no action be taken against Officer Rose.
Custer fired Officer Rose on Nov. 21, and said he believed the officer began pursuing the student before she was 18 years old.
“You solicited and engaged a high school female student to engage in sexual intercourse with you which efforts began prior to the female student reaching the age of majority,” Custer wrote in the termination letter.
“To that end, I cannot logically square your actions and conduct with your employment obligations as a sworn police officer for the City of East Ridge,” he added. “It is my finding that your conduct is contrary to the community standards of honesty, justice, and/or good moral values.”
Custer said that police officers are expected to “uphold higher standards than those generally accepted by ordinary citizens,” the letter read.
“I have identified a pattern of troubling behavior by you, namely promiscuous and embarrassing sexual behavior, inappropriate use of an authoritative position, lack of appropriate judgement, and obstruction of evidence,” Custer wrote.
In the termination letter, Custer noted that Rose was married at the time.
He found Officer Rose “engaged in an act and/or serious of acts of moral turpitude warranting immediate termination,” and fired him effective Nov. 21.
Rose appealed his termination during a hearing with city officials on Monday, the Times Free Press reported.
During the hearing, East Ridge City Attorney Mark Litchford asked the former officer why he deleted this Facebook profile while the internal investigation was being conducted.
Rose said that he did so after a police union representative made the suggestion out of concern that anything found on his page could be taken out of context and used against him, the Times Free Press reported.
Rose said he believes the real reason he was fired was due to concerns he raised over the summer about safety issues with some of the department’s equipment, WTVC reported.
He filed two grievances about his concerns, and was ultimately kicked off the SWAT team, he said.
The panel has 10 days to make a recommendation regarding Rose’s appeal of his termination, but Custer will ultimately make the final call as to whether or not Rose will get his job back.