Phoenix Law Enforcement Association

Is Phoenix’s Rampart on the Horizon?

Rampart

In March of 2000, a board of inquiry determined that a major factor in the LAPD Rampart corruption scandal was upper level management “failing to do their jobs with a high level of consistency and integrity.”   A reasonable formula that can lead to a crisis in the community’s confidence in the police department is:


TIME + APATHY minus MGMT. ACCOUNTABILITY = CORRUPTION.

Phil Gordon says this:  “Any allegations of misconduct by anybody within the City of Phoenix is always a concern as it reflects negatively upon the entire body.  Having said that, our police and the police management are an honest police department and don’t sweep things under the rugs.” (11/2010) The Mayor is partially correct in his statement.  PLEA would readily agree that our line level police officers and detectives are honest and don’t sweep things under the rugs.  Punishment for line level officers and detectives who cross the line is swift and sure usually resulting in some form of administrative sanctions which sometimes includes termination and in rare instances may result in criminal charges.  PLEA does take exception however with the Mayor’s assertion that “things aren’t swept under the rugs.”  Police management has been sweeping supervisory misconduct “under the rugs” for years.  PLEA has been sounding the alarm for just as long.  Historical context can greatly illuminate why the morale of Phoenix PD officers is at an all time low and why the vast majority of the rank and file have no confidence in Chief Harris’ ability to lead the department.

Jack Harris says this: “I assure you, the Department takes all allegations of misconduct seriously, regardless of the complainant or accused.  When an incident such as this occurs, it can create suspicions about the men and women who protect and serve our community.”  (11/2010)  CLICK HERE to read the ENS.

March 2006: A meeting involving PLEA then President Jake Jacobsen, PLEA Secretary Mark Spencer, and Chief Jack Harris occurred.   The issue of disparate treatment between rank and file and management.was brought up  and Chief Harris stated “I’m not going to let PLEA and citizens say when and how investigations are to be done.” Harris went on to state that as far as he was concerned, “The issue of disparate treatment is over.  If you don’t like the way we do investigations then promote.” When reminded by Spencer that PPD policy mandates that investigations will be done when complaints are received, Chief Harris’ reply was, “That’s not true.” (read the excerpt from PPD Operations Order 3.19 below).

Operations Order 3.19 Misconduct Investigations States: “To ensure the integrity of the Police Department, all alleged or suspected personnel misconduct observed or suspected by supervisors, department employees, or citizens will be thoroughly investigated.”   CLICK HERE to read an excerpt from Operations Order 3.19.

Past history is a reliable indicator of future performance.  The poor track record of Phoenix Police Management speaks volumes of the direction we’re likely headed in unless a change on the 4th floor takes place.

The following examples will show how police management “sweeps misconduct under the rug” when it comes to protecting their own.

  1. January 2004, lying in an internal investigation: PPD Commander Harry Markley was investigated over allegations that he had violated the Garrity rights of a subordinate supervisor.  There was an additional allegation that he had lied to subordinate supervisors and an officer of the court.Action Taken: The allegation that Commander Markley had lied was given a finding of unresolved.  On page 4 of the investigative summary, the investigator wrote “Since it could not be clearly established that Commander Markley intended to be misleading, deceptive, or to willingly withhold information in his statement to Lt. Settembre, Sgt. Charrier, or defense attorney Chris Rapp, allegation 2 was unresolved.” You will not find any mention of “intentional” lying or deception in PPD policy.  The issue always has been and still is whether or not the employee was or was not truthful.  Intent does not, and never has figured into the equation.  Clearly, new language was crafted in this instance to give Commander Markley an out.  When AZPOST decides on whether or not to suspend a peace officer’s certification with regard to untruthfulness they only look at one issue: Did it occur or did it not occur?  They don’t care about intent.  The Department’s Professional Standards Bureau investigators through their own investigation determined that Commander Markley was untruthful, however, since in their words it wasn’t “intentional,” that gave them the ability to unresolve the allegation and avoid a situation that would have otherwise mandated termination.
  2. February 2004, Failure to Supervise: PLEA forwarded a formal letter of complaint to Asst. Chief Ontiveros regarding the conduct of police Sgt. Greenlee.Action Taken: COMPLAINT IGNORED, NO INVESTIGATION CLICK HERE to view the complaint letter.
  3. February 2004, Allegations of misconduct against multiple supervisors: A formal complaint letter was sent to Deputy City Manager Juan Martin alleging misconduct on the part of Asst. Chief Sil Ontiveros, Lt’s Larry Giebelhausen, Jim Farris, and Jeff Halstead, Sgt’s Ruth Anne Wisniewski and Yolanda Matthews.Action Taken: COMPLAINT IGNORED, NO INVESTIGATION CLICK HERE to read the complaint letter.  
  4. June 2004, Failure to investigate an Assistant Chief for excessive force/elements of a felony: Assistant Chief Sil Ontiveros while riding with an officer in the South Mountain Precinct pepper sprayed a transient that was asleep in a dumpster.Action Taken: COMPLAINT IGNORED, NO INVESTIGATION CLICK HERE to view the complaint letter.
  5. July 2004, Failure to supervise: Complaint authored against Cdr. Steve Forester for failure to supervise.Action Taken: COMPLAINT IGNORED, NO INVESTIGATION CLICK HERE to view the complaint letter.
  6. July 8, 2004, Complaint authored against Lt. Ron Henry for unprofessional conduct.Action Taken: COMPLAINT IGNORED, NO INVESTIGATION CLICK HERE to view the complaint letter.
  7. October 2005, allegation of lying under oath: PLEA presented a written complaint to Chief Harris alleging untruthfulness against then-Commander Bill Louis based on testimony he gave under oath at a PERB hearing.  Commander Louis was the Commander of the PPD Professional Standards Bureau during this time frame.Action Taken: COMPLAINT IGNORED, NO INVESTIGATION The PPD refused on no less than three occasions to initiate an investigation into the allegation of misconduct on Cdr. Bill Louis. On two separate occasions Assistant Chief Andy Anderson and Assistant Chief Mike Frazier made it clear to PLEA that Commander Louis would not be investigated. In addition, it was made known that if PLEA continued to push the issue of an investigation that Bill Louis might sue PLEA because he had a lot of money and that the department might also be forced to investigate other PLEA members since it appeared that the hearing officer was not happy with their testimony as well.  Bill Louis was later promoted to Assistant Chief prior to his retirement from the PPD.  CLICK HERE to read the complaint letter.  CLICK HERE to view the complaint letter.  CLICK HERE to view the supporting documentation.
  8. May 2005, allegation of unprofessional conduct/failure to supervise: PLEA authored a written complaint to Commander Bill Campbell alleging unprofessionl conduct/failure to supervise on the part of Sgt. Leonard Pinuelas.Action Taken: COMPLAINT IGNORED, NO INVESTIGATION CLICK HERE to read the complaint letter.
  9. June 2005, Allegation of untruthfulness against Lt. Jeff Halstead: A formal complaint letter was sent to Chief Jack Harris alleging untruthfullness on the part of Lt. Jeff Halstead.Action Taken: COMPLAINT IGNORED, NO INVESTIGATION CLICK HERE to view the complaint letter.
  10. November 2005, Allegation of Unprofessional Conduct/Failure to Supervise: A formal complaint letter was sent to Asst. Chief Andy Anderson regarding the conduct of Sgt. Kardasz.Action Taken: COMPLAINT IGNORED, NO INVESTIGATION CLICK HERE to view the complaint letter.
  11. March 2006, allegation lying under oath at a Civil Service Hearing: PLEA authored a written complaint to Asst. Chief Andy Anderson alleging that PSB investigator Sgt. Kathy Johnson lied under oath at a Civil Service Hearing.Action TakenCOMPLAINT IGNORED, NO INVESTIGATION The PPD refused to investigate Sgt. Johnson for misconduct and more importantly allowed her to stay in her assignment as a PSB investigator for another year and a half after this investigation and subsequent allegations of misconduct.  CLICK HERE to view the complaint letter.
  12. April 2006, Allegation of MOU violation: A formal complaint letter was sent to Executive Asst. Police Chief Mike Frazier alleging that Cdr. Steve Campbell of PSB violated an officers MOU rights.Action Taken: COMPLAINT IGNORED, NO INVESTIGATION CLICK HERE to read the complaint letter.
  13. June 2006, Allegation of Civil Rights and MOU violation: A formal complaint letter was sent to Asst. Chief Andy Anderson alleging that Lts, Tipsword and Conrad violated an officer’s civil rights and MOU rights while at a crime scene.Action Taken: COMPLAINT IGNORED, NO INVESTIGATION CLICK HERE to read the complaint letter.
  14. December 2006, Allegation of Impeding a Criminal Investigation: A formal complaint letter was sent to Asst. Chief Andy Anderson alleging that PSB investigators Sgts Joe Smelter and Brian Riggin interfered in/impeded a criminal investigation rsulting in the violation of an officers victim rights.Action Taken: COMPLAINT IGNORED, NO INVESTIGATION CLICK HERE to read the complaint letter.
  15. September 2007, Allegation of Unprofessional Conduct: A formal complaint letter was sent to Commander Frank Milstead regarding allegations of unprofessional conduct/insubordination on the part of Lt. Ron Hergert.Action Taken: COMPLAINT IGNORED, NO INVESTIGATION CLICK HERE to read the complaint letter.
  16. March 2009, Allegation of EEO complaints: A formal letter was sent to City Manager Frank Fairbanks and MCSO regarding allegations of EEO complaints against mulitple supervisors.Action Taken: COMPLAINT IGNORED, NO INVESTIGATION CLICK HERE to read EEO issues shared with former state rep Art Hamilton. CLICK HERE to read the letter sent to Frank Fairbanks. CLICK HERE to read the letter sent to MCSO.
  17. July 2009, Allegation of Falsification of Official Records : A formal complaint letter was sent to Asst. Chief Blake McClelland (PSB Chief) requesting a PSB investigation concerning allegations that physical fitness scores had been falsified by a supervisor within the department’s Special Assignments Unit and that there was a subsequent cover up by managers within the unit.Action Taken: COMPLAINT IGNORED, NO INVESTIGATION CLICK HERE to read the complaint letter as well as the subsequent response from PSB Commander George Richards blowing off the complaint.
  18. August 2010, Allegation of failure to investigate unprofessional conduct: A formal complaint letter was sent to Commander Jeff Hynes of PSB requesting an investigation on Commander Louis Tovar who was recorded on tape referring to a citizen as a “dickweed” when he stated “it’s the fucking nature of the game with these dickweeds ya know.”  The department refused to investigate even after receiving formal complaints from the citizen and knowing that the recording was posted on the internet for anyone to hear.Action Taken: COMPLAINT IGNORED, NO INVESTIGATION CLICK HERE to read the complaint letter.

Chief Harris is holding true to his past statements made to PLEA, “I’m not going to let PLEA and citizens say when and how investigations are to be done.” and “The issue of disparate treatment is over.  If you don’t like the way we do investigations then promote.” TranslationIf you don’t like unfair treatment then move up the ladder to get out of the fire. Maybe Harris needs to review Ops 3.19 Misconduct investigations: “To ensure the integrity of the Police Department, all alleged or suspected personnel misconduct observed or suspected by supervisors, department employees, or citizens will be thoroughly investigated.”  Perhaps the Chief has conveniently forgotten the numerous complaint letters sent from PLEA over the years asking that incidents of managerial misconduct be investigated.  Maybe the November 18 statement issued by the Chief would be more accurate were it to read “I assure you, the Department takes all SOME allegations of misconduct seriously, regardless of DEPENDING ON the complainant or accused.”

In any successful organization accoutability and leadership start at the top.  The ethics, principles, morals, and servant leadership necessary for the success of an institution must start with those at the top and be driven from the top down.  Those organizations that drive their standards from the bottom up, who require less accountability from those who rise through the ranks are doomed to failure and a cycle of destruction that will continually repeat until change is brought about.       

One wonders if City Manager David Cavazos and Assistant City Manager Ed Zuercher are in agreement with the Jack Harris method of dealing with management misconduct in the Police Dapartment.