A police officer who had a sexually explicit text conversation with a convicted paedophile has been found guilty of gross misconduct.
PC John Storie encouraged the offender to describe serious abuse against a child and send images and videos via WhatsApp, a misconduct panel heard.
He did not report the man to Essex Police after the chat last December.
The hearing ruled Mr Storie, who has since retired, breached the standards of professional behaviour.
The panel at Chelmsford Civic Centre heard the incident came to light when police started investigating the man Mr Storie had been in contact with on 20 December 2017.
In May, the officer - who was based in Colchester - was voluntarily interviewed and suspended from duty while an investigation was carried out. He retired in September.
As part of the investigation, Mr Storie's home was searched and two live rounds of ammunition were found, which he did not have a firearms certificate for.
The panel ruled the former officer had breached the professional standards of conduct in relation to the conversation about child sexual abuse.
He was also found to have breached conduct standards in relation to the ammunition offence.
The panel said if PC Storie had not already been medically retired, he would have been dismissed. He will also be placed on the College of Policing Police Barred List.
Ch Supt Andrew Mariner said after the hearing that the former officer's behaviour had been "despicable".
"Protecting the most vulnerable members of our society is at the very heart of the role of being a police officer," he said.
"For an officer to engage in sexually explicit conversation with a sex offender and to not report him is vile and reprehensible."