Is this the beginning of the end for ASUPD Command Staff? McD’s is still hiring.
Earlier today, ASUPD Chief Pickens sent out a bizarre email to the entire PD:
From: John Pickens (Chief of Police)
Sent: Tuesday, June 10, 2014 10:54 AM
Subject: New Opportunity
I wanted to make you aware of this before it is announced sometime this afternoon.
Arizona State University Chief of Police John Pickens is pursuing a new opportunity after 14 years of service. Chief Pickens initially was hired as the Director/Chief of Police for the Department of Public Safety, Tempe Campus, after serving as Director of Public Safety at Northern Illinois University.
“I have given much thought to what I would like to accomplish during the next phase of my life,” Pickens said. “After 14 years of service, it is time to pass the baton to someone else. It has been an honor to serve as the Chief of Police at ASU.”
Pickens will continue to serve as ASU Police Chief while a national search is completed and until his successor is on board, noted Morgan R. Olsen, ASU’s Executive Vice President, Treasurer and CFO. He then will assume his new duties as Executive Director, University Security Initiatives. Pickens’ duties in this new role will include overseeing expansion of the university’s video security system and other emerging public safety technologies, assisting the Office of Emergency Preparedness in ensuring that ASU is positioned for effective emergency response and recovery, and leading security planning for the Sun Devil Stadium project.
John L. Pickens
Chief of Police
Arizona State University
This email was clearly crafted by someone in ASU’s PR department, as the email is much more articulate than Pickens’ normal emails. Also, the entire email is written in third person! Either Pickens is a member of British royalty, or someone wrote the email on his behalf (we are speculating it is the latter).
Later on, the university made an “official” announcement via a digital press release. The press released detailed all of of Pickens’ vast “accomplishments” in his 14 year tenure which are pathetic and exaggerated, at best:
• All marked police vehicles have been equipped with in-car video recording systems and enhanced communications. Upgrading the vehicles to a standard nearly every other major police department across the country merits kudos for Pickens? The CIVILIANS who work on maintaining and upgrading the vehicles are the ones deserving of credit, NOT Pickens.
• Expansion of the community-based policing program by establishing internal and external partnerships and a team-building philosophy to promote higher levels of service to the university community. ASUPD’s Command Staff has VERY strained relationships with the surrounding police agencies, namely Tempe PD. TPD is forced to deal with problems that ASUPD won’t because of poor staffing. Internally, ASUPD has very few positive partnerships with members of the student population; after all, why would students be willing to trust the PD when the Command Staff has turned a blind eye to properly investigating and reporting sexual assaults?
• Establishment of the Chief’s Advisory Board to enhance communication and problem solving within the department. This is a complete lie! The Chief’s Advisory Board was resurrected in September 2013 after being defunct for approximately five years. The board came back into existence coincidentally around the time departmental discord (in the form of indeed.com and The Integrity Report) began going public. After we posted some Advisory Board meeting minutes, the Chief forbid anyone from having any hard copy notes or meeting minutes. None of the board’s suggestions were adopted, and the board met a total of three times before going defunct, again.
• Reorganization of the university’s police functions to consolidate the West, Polytechnic and Tempe campus police departments under his leadership, in accordance with the “One University in Many Places” philosophy. This amounted to changing the names of the West and Poly campus departments, and assigning a Commander to each respective campus. However, this is pointless because the Commanders at the satellite campuses are rarely there, and are usually at Tempe campus in meetings.
• The 2006 implementation of law enforcement and security services at the newly-formed ASU Downtown Phoenix campus, using a new model designed specifically to meet the unique nature of that campus. The “new model” of the campus is to assign only civilian employees to patrol it, and leave the majority of actual police work to Phoenix PD.
• Expansion of the police aide ranks, which often are used as a recruitment pool for ASU Police officers. (ASU Police officers who then leave abruptly as soon as they are able.)
• Aggressive pursuit of grants that allowed upgrading the 9-1-1 system to include police vehicle laptops and implementation of the Live-Scan fingerprint system. Other people wrote these grants, so the Chief should not take credit for it.
• Development of a new, state-of-the-art police facility on the Tempe campus, including a sophisticated Emergency Operations Center. ASUPD had an extra room in its brand new facility, so they spent a lot of money on equipment to convert it into an EOC. It has never been used.
• Four successful reaccreditations through the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, including the department’s 2008 reaccreditation as a “Flagship Agency.” Pickens had Blythe do all the work of fixing ASUPD enough for it to be accredited by CALEA; Pickens doesn’t deserve any credit. Furthermore, we would be surprised if ASUPD gets accredited by CALEA this year, given the current situation in the department.
• Reduction of the department’s carbon footprint by adding hybrid vehicles, Segways and three-wheeled motorcycles for patrolling ASU campuses. Pickens spent money to purchase hybrid vehicles that are terrible, Segways that mostly Police Aides use, and a few three wheeled motorcycles. Since when is spending money an accomplishment?
• Legislative testimony successfully supporting the university’s ban of firearms on its campuses. Pickens’ testimony wasn’t the final nail in the coffin that upheld the university’s ban on firearms on campus, so this statement seems misleading.
Also according to the press release, Pickens will assume his new duties as “executive director of University Security Initiatives” once his replacement is settled into the PD. This new “position” Pickens is transitioning to did not exist prior to today. There was no job posting for the role of “executive director of University Security Initiatives”, nor were there any other candidates. Pickens has been very verbal about his unwillingness to leave the PD, telling multiple employees that he would “die in his chair or be dragged out”. Seeing as how he is very much alive, our deductive reasoning skills tell us that Pickens was ousted out of his position as Police Chief and, in exchange, given a cushy six-figure position that was made up specifically for him.
However, the question of “why now?” still has yet to be discovered. Perhaps ASU wants a Chief that will stop publicly embarrassing them, or wants to geniuenly solve the current staffing and moral crisis at ASUPD. Whatever the reason, removing Chief Pickens is a baby step in the right direction, and a sign that the house of cards may start falling soon.