Exclusive: Officer accused of soliciting minors brought down by ‘KopBusters’

From Raw Story (with video):

A former police officer who worked for over a dozen departments in Texas is behind bars Tuesday, held on numerous felony charges including engaging in organized criminal activity, promotion of prostitution, solicitation of minors and two counts of attempting to possess child pornography.

Activist and filmmaker Barry Cooper, who is producing a reality show called “KopBusters,” aided officers with the Combine Police Department in drawing the man out into the open, ultimately helping wrap a three-year investigation in the process.

Until late last month, Michael Meissner, 39, was chief of police in Little River-Academy, Texas, a town so small that it only had one officer. He resigned his post after residents of the small town packed city hall with complaints about his behavior, according to local reports.

Meissner called the town “a good stepping stone for me,” reported Temple Daily News, which noted that the former officer held 18 different law enforcement jobs over the last 14 years. The “gypsy cop,” said Dallas television station WFAA, “seemed to operate under his own rules, spending much of his time working off-duty security jobs 60 miles away in Dallas.”

Prior WFAA reports “found that Meissner had used a phony college diploma for certification and failed to let his employers know that he had been arrested twice,” the network added.

Combine police were initially probing Meissner over suggestions that he had misused official information to retaliate against another man. However, when they looked at Meissner’s text messages and e-mail, they claim to have discovered something much worse.

“When the affidavits are released, the public is going to be shocked,” said Cooper, speaking to reporters outside Meissner’s home. “The conversation and the lewd conduct he’s been involved in with high school boys. As an ex-police officer, it makes me sick that we’ve got a guy running around here in a badge, that the public is supposed to trust, and he’s using that uniform to breach the trust of the younger citizens in the community. It’s horrible.”

Two of Meissner’s neighbors additionally told RAW STORY they had repeatedly seen various teenage boys entering and leaving the residence.

“Man, I’m just glad police are doing their job, they’re heroes,” said next door neighbor Brenda Lambert. “Anyone that messes with children needs to be taken care of.”

“We don’t regret hiring him or letting him go,” Little River Mayor Ronnie White told the Daily News when Meissner resigned last month. “We will find another officer.”

Tactical officers, who had set up a staging area just one street from Meissner’s Arlington, Texas home, raided the residence at approximately 1:45 p.m. on Monday, but the suspect was gone.

He was arrested later that evening after returning to his home. Meissner actually called Cooper to warn that his that his home had apparently been raided. Cooper then called police and relayed Meissner’s location.

A judge has set Meissner’s bond at $1.5 million.

Cooper says he was in this instance an undercover journalist and police informant, who had befriended Meissner under the false pretense that he wanted to use KopBusters for the purpose of clearing his name.

For the man whose living is paid for by a DVD series on how to grow, sell and smuggle marijuana without being detected by the police, he certainly seemed to have a natural rapport with the officers on-scene.

Outside Meissner’s home in Arlington, Texas (Alexander Rutledge/KopBusters.com).

One of them even asked Cooper how his former law enforcement mentor in Odessa was doing.

“Oh man, he was a legend back in my day,” he replied. “Unfortunately, he planted meth on an innocent woman and I had to bust him.”

After officers kicked in Meissner’s door and cordoned off his home, the front yard became what seemed to be Cooper’s first campaign stop in what he says is a serious run for Texas attorney general. He even put on a suit before heading to the location with reporters and his camera crew in-tow.

“Within a short time, we hope to have a corrupt police chief in jail for seven felony warrants [for] harming kids,” he told reporters. “I acted as a undercover journalist-informant, they listed me as the informant on the arrest affidavit. I befriended this officer and made him believe that I was his friend and that I wanted to clear his name. The truth was, I was relaying all that information to the Combine police department.”

Cooper continued: “As an ex-narcotics officer, I’ve experienced corruption and seen it myself. My wife suggested that I use my experience to go and start busting corrupt police officers instead of citizens. That’s when we formed ‘KopBusters,’ a reality TV show. We’re hoping to have 13 episodes up on […] TV very soon. I feel [passionate] about my job, and we’re using these stings so I can win Texas attorney general in 2010, because in that position I can expose police corruption even further, take their salaries and begin paying police officers six-figure incomes … The one’s that deserve it.”

Cooper showed up to the raid wearing a suit, as if campaigning (Stephen C. Webster).

Steve Allen, police chief in Combine, Texas, called Cooper’s brand of law enforcement activism an “excellent resource.”

“Police officers need all the help they can get,” he said. “There’s a lot of things, for example, [Barry] may have drawn him out of the woodwork for us — something that we couldn’t do that he did. So, I think [KopBusters] is an excellent resource and tool for us.”

In December, Cooper and his team of lawyers and investigators staged a sting on the Odessa, Texas police department, setting up a fake marijuana grow house and baiting officers to raid it without proper legal authorization. It was the first of what Cooper promises to be many future operations against allegedly dirty police.

This video was captured by a cameraman with Barry Cooper’s KopBusters on Sept. 14, 2009.

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