Ross Coleman, 42, said he started streaming the vile material as "a form of escapism" after he found himself in financial trouble.
At the time of his offending he was a serving special sergeant for Northamptonshire Police's safer roads team, but later resigned.
Today (Monday) Leicester Crown Court heard Coleman, formerly of Bates Close but now of Wharf Road, was arrested at his family home in October 2018.
Police seized a number of items and the dad-of-three handed over his personal phone.
On it were a number of thumbnail images representing videos he had been watching on his Smart TV.
Prosecutor Joey Kwong said an inspection of the device found 80 indecent images of children, of which 45 were the most severe (category A) with 20 category B files and 15 in category C. The files showed sexual abuse of girls as young as four-years-old and had been downloaded over a two-year period.
Coleman - who is unemployed having left his job as an Asda delivery driver in Brackmills - gave no comment answers when questioned by police before admitting three counts of indecent image offences before Christmas.
Mitigating, Kim Lee said Coleman's offending was down to his financial difficulties, which he had been in since 2008.
He said: "Because of these financial problems he would seek escapism, unfortunately, by using various chat sites and viewing this material."
He said that Coleman was "really ashamed" and that he had let down his former Northamptonshire Police colleagues, adding that he was at a "very low ebb" having lost his home and his family.
Coleman, who was supported in court by his parents who have taken him in after he was kicked out by his partner, nodded in the dock as Judge Rhona Campbell told him many child abuse offences were down to people like him.
She said: "These are crimes with victims. If people like you did not sit in your house watching this material there would not be any need for any poor little girls to be taken from their homes and be sexually exploited.
"They are because there is a market for people like you to watch this stuff.
"They are someone's daughter...they are all lives that have been affected by this type of offending."
Mr Lee said Coleman has since been to his GP to "fight his demons" and his "addiction" to child abuse images - and it was the steps he had taken to address his behaviour that the judge put down to "just" being convinced to suspend his prison sentence.
Coleman's one-year spell behind bars was suspended for 18 months and he must take part in 120 hours of unpaid work.
The disgraced former police special must also take part in 35 days of rehabilitation activities and will be the subject of a sexual harm prevention order restricting his internet use.
He will now face a police gross misconduct hearing.
Detective Constable Jason Cullum led the investigation. He said: “I am pleased this case has concluded and that justice has been done. It serves as a warning to anybody who thinks they can look at indecent images of children and go unnoticed.
“It is doesn’t matter who you are or what you do. You can expect a knock on your door from a police officer and from that moment onwards your whole life will be turned upside down. You are likely to lose your family, your home and your job, as Coleman did.
“More importantly, every indecent image of a child is an image of a victim. These are images of child abuse and perpetuate more offending against the most vulnerable in our society.
“This is why we have a team of experts dedicated to catching offenders and bringing them to justice.
“Anybody with information about people viewing and sharing indecent images of children should report it immediately by calling 101 or 999 in an emergency.”