ASU Police Chief Mike Thompson dodges investigative reporters giving less than truthful statements to the ASU “State Press” Newspaper

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The Arizona State University School Newspaper, The State Press, had an interview with ASU Police Chief Michael Thompson. The full article is here:

http://www.statepress.com/article/2015/05/asu-police-department-battles-wit-uncertain-effects-of-budget-cuts

Apparently the school newspaper is the only place Chief Thompson feels comfortable telling less than truthful statements about the causes of ASUPD’s many systemic everlasting problems. Professional investigative reporters would tear him a new one for the statements he made in this article.

It’s time to look at these statements for what they’re worth.

ASUPD Chief Thompson’s STATEMENT: Chief Michael Thompson stated, “It’s always tight, we’re efficient with our money, and we spend it wisely, but it all has to do with budgeting.”

ASUPD Integrity Report’s RESPONSE: “It’s always tight…” More lies from ASU Police Chief Mike Thompson. Thompson has treated the ASU Police Budget much like congress treats our tax dollars. Spend, spend, and spend because somebody else is paying for it. More ASU Police issues get media attention? Run over to the Fulton Center asking for more money. Money isn’t the issue, its mismanagement. We would like Chief Thompson to answer these questions.

How tight is it when you have funding to pay officers and dispatchers time and a half for over three years to cover shifts because the root problems of ASUPD have never been addressed?

How tight is it when you create 3 new management lines starting at $70,000 a piece while we are continuing to lose employees to other departments at an alarming rate? Whoops! $210,000 and more when they work department paid overtime. Are we at 20 Sergeants now? How many new civilian lines have you created? Add another $100,000. Congratulations on adding well over a quarter million to the payroll of the Arizona State University Police Department that have nothing to do with patrol.

How tight is it when you move a Sergeant to the “Events Overtime position” held by officers for decades and making them an “Events Overtime Supervisor” then create another job “Events Overtime Assistant” at a time when the university is looking to make huge 100 Million dollars cuts and raise tuition 11% overnight.  You just tripled the cost of running that small facet of the department that has nothing to do with day to day patrol operations.

How tight is it when you have more supervisors on shifts than working, patrolling police officers the same way Pickens mismanaged the department?

How tight is it when you can afford to pay so many supervisors to sit in their offices for entire shifts playing on their computers or having shift long 12hr social events?

How tight is it really when each campus has a commander, Tempe campus has two commanders, all five of them making six figures, and they spend the work week in Tempe doing what month after month, year after year? Doing your job?

How tight is it when you come under fire for having surplus assault rifles, get ordered by your boss to return them, and then under their nose you order 20K? worth of assault rifles, scopes, and silencers of the type only trained SWAT teams would use? Are you appeasing the firearms clique?

The truth is it’s not very tight at all. In fact it’s pretty loose. Chief Mike Thompson and his command are inefficient with the money allocated to them, and they spend it like fools not realizing they are making the same catastrophic mistakes of the Pickens era because they get pat on the backs for mismanagement failure by a university administration much more concerned with this blog than making sure they do their jobs. Brilliant.

ASUPD Chief Thompson’s STATEMENT: Thompson said while ASUPD may be understaffed, it has also been misrepresented by the media.

ASUPD Integrity Report’s RESPONSE: Really? This is why you’re talking to the kid’s newspaper and not the grown-ups who do it for a living earning national awards for their work? The fact based analysis of investigative reporters, citing every detail as they go in black and white is too much to handle? Tell us Chief Thompson, no dismissive generalizations, what exactly has been misrepresented and how? Put it on the table, put up or shut up. It sounds like your criticisms of the Integrity Report. The criticism is intentionally vague, based on emotion, and wholly lacks supporting truth.

ASUPD Chief Thompson’s STATEMENT: Common policy for college campus security typically involves having one security officer for every 1,000 students, Thompson said, and ASU has a large population of online students who are in no need of ASU police protection.

ASUPD Integrity Report’s RESPONSE: It’s also not just “common policy”, it’s a FEDERAL GUIDELINE set forth by the US Department of Justice. These guidelines are for numbers of Police Officers, not Police Aides, and ASUPD does not have a Security Officer title.

By Chief Thompson’s vague statements we can only assume he is referring to this article: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/tempe/2014/09/21/asu-police-staffing-lags-campus-growth/15999573/

The ASUPD Chief’s Advisory Board showed the department to be short 50-80 officers. A national report found ASU’s ratio of sworn officers to students is about 25 percent below the national average for large, public schools. Should we believe ASUPD short timer Chief Thompson or a retired ASU Police Sergeant, 20 years on the job, stressed the low staffing and related safety concerns here:

Retired ASU Sgt. Marvin Tahmahkera compared the daily scheduling of patrol officers to a popular video game in which a player must manipulate random blocks into position before the pieces fall to the bottom.

“Every day it seemed like a game of Tetris. Someone would call in sick,” said Tahmahkera, who retired last year after 22 years with the department.

He recalls responding to a domestic-violence call by himself at ASU’s Polytechnic campus, a situation where law-enforcement best practices say having a backup officer is a necessary precaution. The staffing levels sometimes made it difficult to patrol dorms, look for underage drinkers and rattle doors at night to make sure they were locked.

“Many times I was the officer in charge, and I was just praying nothing would happen that night,” he said.

Chief Thompson’s STATEMENT: Common policy for college campus security typically involves having one security officer for every 1,000 students, Thompson said, and ASU has a large population of online students who are in no need of ASU police protection.

ASUPD Integrity Report’s RESPONSE: First, as Police Chief of the Arizona State Police Department Thompson should know the difference between police officers and security officers, so we’ll just assume this was a State Press mistake.

Secondly Mike Thompson is wrong again, ONE officer for every THOUSAND? WRONG. The typical number is at least TWO POLICE OFFICERS for every THOUSAND!

Look at official government and reputable sources for this information, not a politician trusted with public safety:

The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), within the Office of Justice Programs (OJP), within the United States Department of Justice (DOJ)

http://www.theiacp.org/Portals/0/pdfs/Officer-to-Population-Ratios.pdf

www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=3&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CC0QFjACahUKEwid2tjfsYvGAhUKiw0KHThQAFA&url=http%3A%2F%2Ficma.org%2FDocuments%2FDocument%2FDocument%2F305747&ei=6XV7Vd3BLoqWNriggYAF&usg=AFQjCNGIBiqKB8ELvEuvrp48nKvYTafEEQ

http://policepay.blogspot.com/2008/09/sworn-police-officers-per-1000-citizens.html

Chief Thompson’s STATEMENT: Common policy for college campus security typically involves having one security officer for every 1,000 students, Thompson said, and ASU has a large population of online students who are in no need of ASU police protection.

ASUPD Integrity Report’s RESPONSE: Chief Thompson says ASU has a large population of online students and that throws off the requirements for staffing? At the time of this article those numbers read like this, ASU is the largest public university in the country with 82,000 students, including 13,000 online-only students. At the time of his statement to the State Press ASU is set to break the 100,000 student mark. How many are online students and how much has the department grown to meet this number? These 13,000 online students never come to ASU? We will do the math for Chief Thompson, 100,000-13,000 = 87,000 What about the 87,000 students Mike T? The truth on ASUPD Staffing can be found here: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/tempe/2014/09/21/asu-police-staffing-lags-campus-growth/15999573/

Chief Thompson’s STATEMENT: “We hired 15 new police officers this year,” Thompson said. “We are looking at different salary strategies to see what would be the best way to retain some (of the current) employees.”

ASUPD Integrity Report’s RESPONSE: The key word of “salary strategies” is more aptly called “throwing a little bone” or “salary schemes”. So far all they came up with a salary scheme that nets an officer a few hundred dollars per year above their salary for sticking around. The starting ASUPD officer makes 48 and stays at 48 seemingly forever, while other agencies start in the low 50’s and go up yearly. Overtime for hours past 40? Nope. You get COMP time to take time off, but due to staffing you just accrue it. When Thompson says, “to retain some (of the current) employees.” He better move quick, anyone that can leave does, they see the future isn’t at ASUPD making peanuts, getting denied opportunities and promotions by a corrupt command who gives them to their political appointees.

 Chief Thompson’s STATEMENT: These strategies will be key in maintaining the size of ASU’s police force because it lost employees in the past.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a horrible problem, but we do have some attrition,” he said. “We have some people transferring to different agencies, but not more than normal.”

Thompson said losing officers was not always due to issues of salary but often a result of their desire to seize different opportunities.

ASUPD Integrity Report’s RESPONSE: Listen to the above statement and ask yourself if it sounds like an honest answer or deceptive one? In one sentence Thompson says the salary strategies will be key in maintaining the size of the police force, but ends with saying losing officers was not always due to salary, but “desire to seize different opportunities”. Once again as with his predecessor Chief Thompson can’t acknowledge the leadership vacuum at ASUPD despite having far more supervisors than patrol units.

When Thompson says, “We have some people transferring to different agencies, but not more than normal.” Does he mean “…more than normal” for ASU Police OR more than normal for an average police department, the two are very different. Normal police departments don’t have scheduling panic freak-out sessions (emergency meetings) for consecutive years because they lose entire squads and need to replace them overnight. The turnover will continue as more ASUPD officers read the writing on the wall and realize they can never promote/make more money/or get a specialty position based on merit or experience.

The ASU Police Command tired long ago of putting their mugs out in front of media cameras and looking like fools, so they created yet another ASU Police Job Title, Public Information Officer, months ago and have been unsuccessful in filling it until now. This position changed to “Media Relations” with no police experience.

The fact of the matter is that ASU Police Chief Thompson, like his predecessor, lacks the essential skills of leadership and management experience that will grow the ASU Police Department and make it place where officers, civilians, starting their law enforcement careers feel important, valued, and not discarded.

The complete lack of integrity within the command levels of this agency

is a stink that few can abide. The latest objective truth of this are the promotion appointments,

passing over the most qualified candidates for political appointments.

Why would any hard working officer subject themselves to this when there are respectable agencies with reputable leadership to work with

and actual opportunities, not make believe ones?

The former chief surrounded himself with an army of supervisors, but that’s not how the work gets done and is a proven business model failure. Thompson is doing more of the same things that failed Pickens. His two-faced dishonesty will significantly undermine the trust employees are supposed to have for a police chief, for an organization meant to be held together with trust in one another. The cronyism is every bit as bad as it was under Pickens and the one thing the ASU Police Department doesn’t need are more issues undermining morale.

 

Here’s the original article:

By Isabella Castillo | 05/01/15 1:46pm

Understaffed and already on a tight budget, the ASU Police Department is bracing itself for state budget cuts to come in the next year.

The state Legislature cut university funding by $99 million for the 2016 fiscal year, and ASU is already working on strategies to work with the reduction in funds.

ASU Chief of Police Michael Thompson said the police department was told the funding reductions should not affect the money allocated to campus security, but he added that they are still waiting to see “how everything turns out” as far as the budget is concerned.

ASUPD is on a tight budget as it is, and the school has struggled with criticism in the past for being understaffed in its security department for a school of its size.

“It’s always tight,” Thompson said. “We’re efficient with our money, and we spend it wisely, but it all has to do with budgeting.”

Thompson said while ASUPD may be understaffed, it has also been misrepresented by the media.

Common policy for college campus security typically involves having one security officer for every 1,000 students, Thompson said, and ASU has a large population of online students who are in no need of ASU police protection.

ASU is working on expanding its police force, as well as making an effort to retain the officers already employed.

“We hired 15 new police officers this year,” Thompson said. “We are looking at different salary strategies to see what would be the best way to retain some (of the current) employees.”

These strategies will be key in maintaining the size of ASU’s police force because it lost employees in the past.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a horrible problem, but we do have some attrition,” he said. “We have some people transferring to different agencies, but not more than normal.”

Thompson said losing officers was not always due to issues of salary but often a result of their desire to seize different opportunities.

Police Aide Richard Bailey also said ASUPD has suffered with issues regarding the size of its police force.

“We’ve had a surge for a period of time where we had to fill slots because we just didn’t have enough manpower,” Bailey said. “We’ve been undermanned for years. We’ve increased our number of students in ASU tremendously, but they haven’t increased the police department to match it. That’s a problem. There will be days when we only have three officers to take care of this campus here in Tempe.”

Bailey said officers leave for different reasons, but a primary reason is that police departments in cities like Chandler, Tempe and Peoria are able to offer them better paying positions.

“Our officers don’t make as much money as any of the cities surrounding us,” Bailey said. “Because of the rollbacks in periods of financial setbacks, we had to let people go.”

Despite difficulties with funding, Bailey said he has complete faith in Thompson’s management.

“If he can get the funding to do what he wants to do, he could develop this police force, which handles all four campuses, into a force that we would be proud of,” Bailey said. “(He) is doing everything he can to correct the problems in the workforce. He’s a very smart man and he’s going to do a great job for ASUPD.”

Increasing the size of its staff is not the only method for preserving the safety of ASU’s students the police department has implemented.

Recently, ASU launched the Livesafe mobile app, which allows students to be in direct contact with the police force, as well as utilize tools like SafeWalk, which allows friends or family to monitor each other’s step-by-step progress when walking alone.

However, students like civil engineering senior Ashley Archambault are still concerned about the size of ASU’s police force and hopeful that it will continue to expand.

“If officers are being recruited to other places that are paying higher, we need to be allocating more money to that,” Archambault said. “It’s such a big campus. As a woman, I would feel safer knowing there was more personnel.”

Notes:

the fact that when gauging police coverage in a given city, the number of police officers actually engaged in direct law enforcement activities, often referred to as patrol strength, is in many ways a more meaningful measure than the total number of officers on the payroll.