OLD SAYBROOK, Conn. (WTNH) — Police commissioners voted unanimously this week to fire an officer accused of illegally accessing a law enforcement system so that he could get a woman’s name after he saw her shopping at Walmart.

Joshua Zarbo, a patrolman with the department since 2017, had the woman’s vehicle registration run “for his own personal gain,” according to police. He has been charged with third-degree computer crime, which is a felony.

Zarbo, 30, was on security detail at the Walmart in Old Saybrook on Black Friday, Nov. 25, to monitor activities inside and outside the store.

The arrest warrant states that when Zarbo saw the woman, he texted another officer to run her vehicle registration, and then asked for it over the radio system. After getting her information, he allegedly followed her on Instagram.

The woman told police that she saw Zarbo while shopping and later noticed that the man who followed her on Instagram was the same officer.

Zarbo told police during an interview that the woman was “being suspicious” by how she looked at him and because she pulled through a parking space instead of backing out of it, according to the arrest warrant. He also allegedly texted a dispatcher with slang, meaning he was trying to pick up women when he originally asked for her registration to be run through the system.

According to the arrest warrant, he called dispatch asking for her information 15 minutes after he saw her and did not ask for anyone else’s information during the shift. Zarbo reportedly told police that he followed her on Instagram after noticing they had mutual friends.

“The Old Saybrook Police Department takes our responsibility to ensure that Department
Employees are adhering to workplace expectations and the law very seriously,” Old Saybrook Police Chief Michael A. Spera said in the initial written announcement about Zarbo’s arrest. “Old Saybrook Citizens must be assured that they can trust their Police Department not only to provide superior traditional and nontraditional law enforcement services every day, but that they can also trust their Police Department to maintain high standards, swiftly address internal matters, and possess the ability to properly police our own.”

Zarbo was released on a $5,000 bond.