SINCE JOINING the Philadelphia Police Department in 2003, Officer Deona Carter has been heralded by her supervisors as a "reliable" cop with "sound judgment."
"Carter's appearance is professional and she gets along well with her peers," her boss wrote in a 2008 performance report.
The 29-year-old officer's Internet fans also rave about her appearance.
"Sexy ass," one horndog wrote on her MySpace page. "If u r the law i m so doing the crime," another wrote. "YOU CAN HANDCUFF ME AND BEAT ME," wrote an online friend named "butta."
That's because when Carter isn't patrolling the streets of the 18th District, headquartered at 55th and Pine streets in West Philly, she drives men crazy with her voluptuous curves on MySpace, where she goes by "Miss Carter."
In her profile photo, Carter, a Robert E. Lamberton High School grad who lists her occupation as "philly finest," poses for the camera wearing a police hat, but with a couple of sultry modifications to the uniform: high heels and a skimpy blue dress that's cut closer to her belly button than her knees.
"It would be inappropriate if she's wearing the hat," said Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, when provided with a description of the photo.
Over at Facebook, Carter offers visitors a front-row view of her cleavage with her profile pic, which features her bending forward in a blouse that leaves little to the imagination.
Lt. Ray Evers, a police spokesman, said yesterday that Internal Affairs opened an investigation this week into whether Carter violated the department's new social-media policy, which restricts what officers can display online. The MySpace photo was posted two years ago.
"Photos they take may be deemed private, but everyone knows if it's put on a website that nothing is private," Evers said. "What they say and who they represent is important to the integrity of the Police Department. If there is a violation, the chips will fall where they may."
Carter may have bigger problems. She's being sued in federal court, along with fellow 18th District officers Denia Starks and Anthony Washington, for allegedly assaulting a bartender at the former 12 Lounge in University City in 2008.
The civil-rights lawsuit, filed by Geovanni Tanner, 26, claims that the officers beat him up following an unrelated fight at the lounge, then "fabricated charges" of aggravated assault and related offenses by claiming that he had attacked the officers.
The three officers testified against Tanner at his preliminary hearing in March 2009, but the District Attorney's Office later dropped all charges against him. At least 10 eyewitnesses at the bar have given statements in support of Tanner.
"Everybody was shocked," said Blake Artwell, then a bartender at 12 Lounge. "They just continued to hit him."
Artwell, 25, said Tanner was upset that one of the officers had taken a glass from a customer and knocked it on the ground, causing it to shatter. But Artwell said that the alleged attack on Tanner, who had no prior arrests, was "completely unprovoked."
"The bumps and bruises, the pain, that part of it goes away," said Tanner's attorney, Leonard Villari. "But he's not only had trouble finding a job [because of the arrest on his record], he had this hanging over his head for more than a year, thinking he's going to jail for at least five years for assaulting three police officers, which he never did."
Margaret Fenerty, a senior attorney in the City Solicitor's Office who is representing the three officers in the lawsuit, declined to comment yesterday, other than to say that the officers deny the allegations.
But Carter was accused of almost identical behavior in 2005, when she reportedly punched her neighbor for calling her "a smut," then provided "misleading information" to responding officers in an attempt to have her neighbor "falsely arrested" for attacking Carter, according to Carter's personnel file.
Following an Internal Affairs investigation, Carter was suspended for 20 days without pay for conduct unbecoming an officer and for making a false statement in response to an official departmental investigation, records show.
Sgt. Joseph McGoldrick, of the Internal Affairs Bureau, testified in a deposition in the Tanner case this month that he had forwarded the case involving her neighbor to the District Attorney's Office but that the office declined to file charges against Carter.
McGoldrick added that he had "concerns" about Carter's fitness as a police officer.
But Carter has consistently received glowing reviews from her supervisors, according to her personnel file.
Then, in 2009, months after she served her 20-day suspension, Carter was nominated for a TOP COPS Award sponsored by the National Association of Police Organizations.
Ramsey told the Daily News this week that he forwarded the award recommendation from another member of the police department and he doesn't know Carter personally.
"The name doesn't even ring a bell," Ramsey said. "I wouldn't know her if she stumbled into me right now."
Last summer, Carter was reprimanded again, this time for neglect of duty, after showing up for court in "short pants and flip-flops," according to her personnel file.
Carter earned $76,485 before taxes last year, including $11,429 in overtime, according to city payroll records.
Carter could not be reached for comment yesterday. Fenerty, of the Solicitor's Office, said she would advise the officers not to comment because of the ongoing litigation.
Fenerty described Carter as "a good police officer" during Carter's deposition last month and called the bar patrons "punks."
"This officer [received an award last month] because she deserves it because she puts her life on the line day in, day out, in a way that you don't," Fenerty told Villari, according to a transcript of the heated deposition.
While Ramsey has taken additional steps to crack down on corrupt cops - 28 police officers have been criminally charged since March 2009 - the Carter case raises questions about how the department handles officers who have trouble following directives, or telling the truth about what happens on the street.
"Here's an individual who has admitted lying during an official police investigation," Villari said of Carter. "If it were you or I, we would have been charged with a crime."
Tasha Jamerson, spokeswoman for the District Attorney's Office, declined to comment.
Starks, 26, too, has been in trouble with the department. She was written up for neglect of duty following a traffic accident in 2007, months after she was hired, records show. She was riding in a police cruiser with her partner when he struck another car. They left the scene of the accident. Starks later tried to convince investigators that she thought he "hit a pothole," according to her personnel file.
Kelvyn Anderson, deputy director of the Police Advisory Commission, which investigates allegations of police misconduct, said that the Carter case is disturbing but that the department under Ramsey appears to have become more proactive about flagging potential problem officers.
"It takes a lot less complaints to end up on that radar screen," Anderson said. "Particularly over the last year, once all these arrests started, they really ramped up looking at people."
Anderson chuckled when told about Carter's risqué photos on the Internet. So did Ramsey. Briefly.
"These cops and their damn Facebook pages," Anderson said. "Some of them are just nuts."