Galveston officer charged with three felony offenses

John Rutherford's 15-year career with the Galveston Police Department has come to a screeching halt. It ended the moment fellow officers arrested him Friday morning.

"We Galveston police officers are disgraced that this could've occurred. However, we and Galveston Island should be proud of our agency," said Chief Vernon Hale.

They've charged him with three felonies—engaging in organized criminal activity, misuse of information and tampering with physical evidence.

While conducting an unrelated narcotic investigation into 32-year-old Salvador Rivera in 2017, the GPD Narcotics Unit detectives received information that a GPD officer, later identified as John Rutherford, may have been working with Rivera and playing an integral role in the illegal distribution of prescription drugs.

Detectives, working with FBI and DEA agents, substantiated allegations that Rutherford may in fact be assisting with this criminal activity. They discovered that Rutherford provided Rivera with protected and classified information concerning officers' locations, movement patterns and work assignments in an effort to allow these criminals to continue to operate without being intercepted by GPD officers.

The Galveston Police Department has been working closely with the FBI, DEA and Galveston County District Attorney's Office throughout the investigation. 

The FBI SWAT unit served a search and arrest warrant and took Rivera into custody. GPD officers placed John Rutherford into custody at the justice center. Rutherford's violations are all 3rd degree felony offenses. A total bond amount of $750,000 has been assessed for Rutherford, who has been placed on administrative leave.

Rutherford's union representative warned against rushing to judgment.

"This officer is entitled to the same due process as are all citizens. We support a full and thorough investigation and hope justice will be served," said Jeff Murdoch.

But the chief says in the meantime they have to clean the stain off the badge this has left behind.

"What we have to do in the public is make these deposits in the proverbial bank of trust. And that's why I'm asking our other good and hard working officers to do because no doubt today we made a withdrawal," said Chief Hale.

GPD Chief Vernon Hale released the following statement:

We realize the community may feel betrayed by someone sworn to protect them; I can assure you that you are not alone. The men and women of the Galveston Police Department share in this disappointment. Galveston Island however; should be proud of our department. This investigation was initiated, conducted, concluded, and the arrest made by Galveston Police Officers who were betrayed by one of their own. The officers and agents involved knew their community deserved better, and that this person, officer or not, must be brought to justice.