MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A former Memphis Police officer has been arrested in connection to a child sex case out of California.
At one point, Andrew Hellums arrested criminals for Memphis Police and now the former officer sits behind bars on multiple felony sex charges.
Hellums, 28, was arrested and charged aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor, aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor, and solicitation sexual exploitation of a minor by electronic means.
On Friday, MPD received a complaint from Tracy Police Department in California. A TPD detective reported that they had been contacted by a concerned father.
According to a police report, an eight-year-old girl’s father discovered conversations his daughter had been having with Hellums.
Investigators found messages where Hellums ask the girl to perform sex acts and photograph them.
He also sent pictures of himself to the girl.
Jessica Reed is a licensed professional counselor who specializes in childhood trauma.
“You do want your children to be prepared for things that may happen,” said Reed.
She says it's a parents' responsibility to set limits and restrictions on technology.
“Restrictions and boundaries are super important. So having a cell phone contract for older children and the younger children having the screen protectors so you can only accessing this for 30 minutes,” said Reed.
Hellums was hired by the Memphis Police Department in March 2017.
The department says he never made it through his one-year probationary period and was fired prior to the investigation due to “his failure to satisfy the probationary process.”
Reed also has an 8-year-old daughter. She says the most important thing parents can do to protect children is have an open and loving relationship where a child feels comfortable to share when they have been victimized.
"Some of the most common warning signs are changes in behavior and appetite, change in sleep, nightmares, trouble staying asleep for a full night," said Reed.
It's unclear how Hellums got in contact with the girl.
Reed reminds parents that sexual predators tend to be family members or someone close to the victim.
“It’s usually people we know. It’s usually family friends or family friends. We teach our children about strangers but the statistics show that strangers are usually few and far between,” said Reed.