Lakewood Police Chief Bret Farrar gathered members of his department for an impromptu meeting early Wednesday, hours before federal authorities charged one of his officers with taking money from an effort intended to do good.
He broke the news that Officer Skeeter Timothy Manos was arrested on suspicion of who had been gunned down about two years earlier in a coffee shop.
Farrar–a cancer survivor who helped hold his young department together in the days after Maurice Clemmons shot four Lakewood officers in 2009–again had to help Lakewood Police stay strong.
Farrar told Patch on Wednesday that his message was clear: Lakewood police weren’t under investigation. It was the alleged actions of an individual officer that were wrong.
Still, he told them, be ready for some people to lump Manos’ alleged crimes with the entire department.
“Be vigilant,” Farrar told them. “Remain professional. Be patient. This, too, shall pass.”
The department learned of Manos’ alleged misuse of the Fallen Officers’ Fund on Jan. 20, when another member of the agency reported it, Farrar said. That same day, the allegations were forwarded to the department’s internal affairs, which confirmed that, “There could be something there.”
The allegations were forwarded to federal officials. On Sunday, they held an emergency meeting with Farrar.
On Wednesday, they arrested Manos on charges of embezzling more than $150,000 by allegedly creating a separate fund, and taking more than $120,000 of that and using it on, among other things, a Las Vegas junket.
Farrar knows the allegations are something that could rip at the fabric of the department, but he’s been dealing with criminals for 24 years.
Just like any other case, “You take your emotional hat off,” he said, adding that Manos’ alleged actions wouldn’t even have come to anyone’s attention were it not for another officer who reported them.
“If these allegations are true,” Farrar said, “I’m confident (Manos) will be held in breach of trust of his fellow officers, the families, but most importantly, the public who generously gave.”