The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Joplin Metro

April 2, 2010

Joplin officer’s job status remains unresolved

By Jeff Lehr

jlehr@joplinglobe.com

A Joplin police officer, who is facing a felony charge of possessing nude photos and videos of a 17-year-old girlfriend, remained on paid administrative leave Friday without any disciplinary action having been taken by the city.

Jonathan D. White, 23, was arrested March 20 after an initial administrative investigation by the internal-affairs division of the Joplin Police Department and a resulting criminal investigation by the Jasper County Sheriff’s Department.

He was charged with felony possession of child pornography after photos and videos of a 17-year-old girl allegedly were found on his cell phone and computer.

White was placed on paid administrative leave immediately following his arrest. His job status with the city had not changed by Friday, according to police Chief Lane Roberts.

“Jonathan White is being afforded the same procedural benefits as those offered to all employees,” Roberts told the Globe in a telephone interview Friday afternoon.

A fact-finding hearing was scheduled for the officer March 24 but did not take place, according to Roberts. The police chief declined to say why the hearing was not held.

Roberts said that both he and Reba Snavely, the city’s director of human resources, submitted recommendations this week to City Manager Mark Rohr regarding possible disciplinary measures with respect to White. The city manager had taken no action by Friday.

“He is reviewing it to assure whatever decision he makes is a just decision,” Roberts said.

Roberts declined to discuss any aspect of the internal-affairs investigation. A prior statement issued by the Joplin Police Department said the administrative investigation was prompted by a complaint received regarding the appropriateness of the officer’s relationship with the girl.

State and federal laws make possession of nude photographs or videos of anyone younger than 18 illegal. Missouri law, however, does not prohibit someone 21 or older from having consensual sexual relations with a 17-year-old. Statutory sex offenses apply to juveniles younger than 17. Roberts previously declined to comment on the apparent incongruity in the two laws.

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