Van Buren Officer Put On Leave After Communication With 16-Year-Old

A Van Buren Police Officer was put on an unpaid suspension following a complaint from parents about his communication attempts with their 16-year-old daughter, police say.

The 16-year-old daughter was stopped by Officer John Cao for speeding as she was going over the Midland bridge coming into Van Buren on (May 11) according to the Van Buren Police Department. She was not given a ticket according the department.

It’s not abnormal for that situation to happen because Cao was looking for driving while intoxicated (DWI) violations that night, and cops often stop a lot of vehicles for various problems because they are looking for drunk drivers, according to Van Buren Police Chief Kenneth Bell.

“It is not a paid suspension,” Bell said. “It`s an unpaid suspension for seven 12 hour shifts.”

“It was one of those things, he runs radar at one location, he stops a lot of people for speeding and very seldom do people get speeding tickets,” Bell said.

Bell explained that cops working DWI are strictly looking for DWI.

The video from that night was reviewed, and no violations were found, according to Bell.

Later, though, the officer attempted to contact the teen on Facebook. The girl talked it over with her parents, and they filed a complaint on her behalf, Bell said.

Cao does not face criminal charges, and an internal investigation was completed. No criminal violations were found, according to Bell.

There was a department policy that was violated, and he was disciplined according to that policy, Bell said.

Bell explained the Van Buren Police Department takes all complaints seriously.

“Obviously his behavior is not what we want the public to think that we are about, using our position to make personal arrangements or personal engagements. The Van Buren Police Department is not about that at all, and we took the complaint very seriously and disciplined officer Cao,” Bell said.

Cao returns to work on Tuesday (June 24).