It starts out like a typical account of an undercover prostitution bust: a pimp approaches a plainclothes officer posing as a john and asks what he wants. But that’s where Metro Officer Jason Smith’s report takes a turn for the blue.
“I told him that I wanted some pussy,” the officer writes in the Aug. 23 affidavit, which goes on to describe a sordid exchange he had with the suspected prostitute once she got in his car. “We started talking about her pussy. I asked her if it was bald,” writes Smith, before relaying an off-color anecdote he shared with the suspect about a time when he saved a life by “pulling my cock out of a girl’s mouth so she could breathe.”
Smith recounts that chivalrous deed, by the way, in at least one other report. He is the author of at least four affidavits that stunned public defenders and prosecutors, one of whom complained to Smith’s supervisors last week about the vulgar reports. The affidavits describe undercover prostitution arrests Smith made last month in the Dickerson Road area of East Nashville.
“This is just sick and twisted,” says Micky Daugherty, an assistant public defender who frequently handles prostitution cases in Davidson County General Sessions Court. The lawyer says she knows Smith—whom she describes as “meek and quiet”—and was surprised to learn he was the author of what is considered offensive material even considering the nature of the arrests.
“I don’t care if you’re a prostitute or a model citizen, the police shouldn’t talk to you that way,” says Daugherty, who likens some of the comments to sexual battery. She says another Metro cop approached her with concerns after reading one of the affidavits, calling them inappropriate and suggesting Smith should be disciplined for his actions.
One assistant district attorney, who asked not to be named, says he’s never seen affidavits quite this explicit. “I don’t know this cop. I don’t know why he’s doing it,” the prosecutor says, adding that he’s surprised Smith hasn’t been disciplined for his behavior.
This isn’t the first time the District Attorney’s Office has frowned upon police practice. Last year, it was instrumental in putting an end to the Metro Police Department’s controversial use of confidential informants in prostitution cases. In some incidents, informants were going so far as to engage in taxpayer-financed sex with suspects—in one notorious case, with a husband and wife.
Police spokesman Don Aaron says the matter of Smith’s amateur porn writing was brought to the attention of the department just last week and that “Officer Smith is going to be counseled about the explicit language in these affidavits.” Smith will meet with supervisors to discuss the affidavits and why he felt it was necessary to use such language, Aaron says. His supervisors then will determine if his actions were justified.
Although the boorish nature of Smith’s conversations with these suspects is concerning, Aaron defends it in as much as it’s becoming increasingly difficult to make cases against prostitutes, who are becoming more adept at detecting undercover cops posing as johns. “I believe that Officer Smith is attempting to be conscientious in his work in East Nashville and not lose these prostitution cases,” he says.
Officer Smith—who typically works as a uniformed patrol officer assigned to the East Precinct—did not return several calls seeking comment. A review of his personnel file shows he’s worked for the department since 2001, taking about a year off to serve in Iraq. The only disciplinary action against him stemmed from a minor traffic accident that damaged his police cruiser in 2002. In fact, the most recent evaluation in his file ironically states that “Officer Smith’s reports need few corrections” and “Officer Smith has good common sense and uses such to make appropriate decisions.”
But Willow Fort, another assistant public defender, questions his judgment, saying she’s never seen affidavits as unnecessarily obscene as those Smith wrote last month. And while she acknowledges officers sometimes must engage in unsavory conversation to maintain their cover, she believes such egregiously smutty talk goes too far. Particularly concerning, she says, is an affidavit in which Smith describes physical contact with a suspected prostitute.
In a report of an Aug. 11 arrest, Smith writes that a suspect grabbed his crotch and that he then “Told her touch my crouch [sic] again and she did.” He then reports, “She stated to me that she had been [in] prostitution for about three years and that this is the best date that she had in a long time.”
“That makes it sound like something happened between them,” Deputy Public Defender Laura Dykes says, referring to the Aug. 11 affidavit. Even if that’s not the case, she says Smith’s narratives are offensive to women, calling him, “a misogynistic porn star” who is “doing this for his own enjoyment.”
When asked whether Officer Smith violated department policy by asking a suspect to touch his crotch, Aaron says he did not, adding that it might have been necessary to prove the suspect intended to engage in prostitution: “If the person does it twice, the first time was not an accident.”