Renton police investigating cartoons mocking cops, city workers

Renton police investigating cartoons mocking cops, city workers »Play Video
RENTON, Wash. -- Police say a series of cartoons mocking officers and other city workers are criminal, and the people who posted them online are guilty of cyberstalking.

One member of the police department has already been demoted, but investigators are looking for additional parties that may be involved after another string of cartoons recently surfaced.

The cartoons, which first appeared on YouTube earlier this year, poke fun at an unnamed law enforcement agency. But Renton Police Chief Kevin Milosevich says his officers, as well as several Renton city employees, are the target.

"The purpose of these videos was to embarrass, torment and harass specific members of the police department and other city employees," he said.

Some of the animation parody real situations that have occurred in the department, Milosevich said, but other events referenced in the cartoons never took place.

"There was an investigation some time ago; however, what was in the videos was a gross exaggeration of what the investigation was all about," he said.

According to a search warrant requested by Renton police, the videos are aimed directly at several Renton police officers and a jail employee. In the warrant, the officers say the videos used embarrassing and emotionally-tormenting comments about past sexual relationships.

Investigators said a similar-looking cartoon made the rounds earlier this year. That cartoon was traced to two Renton officers and led to an internal investigation.

The chief said a deputy chief in the department was demoted to sergeant as a result of the first cartoon. A second police department member also remains under investigation.

But Milosevich believes the latest string of cartoons may be the work of someone else entirely.

"We believe a suspect in this case is either a department employee or someone who is closely associated with this department," he said.

Police used search warrants to track down the creators through the Internet after telling a judge the videos are meant to harass city workers and amounts to cyberstalking.

On Thursday, reporters challenged the chief, asking whether free speech rights were being compromised in what critics are calling a witch hunt.

Nine videos exist, and Renton police are in the process of releasing all of them to the media.

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Watch some of the videos: