A big THANK YOU to the investigative reporters who continue undeterred on the trail of waste, public safety mismanagement, and corruption at the Arizona State University! Thank you Ray Stern for this excellent work.
It’s an honorable endeavor to expose crooks and dishonesty. You provide an invaluable service to the public by doing so, especially when public servants fail to be trustworthy. We were worried local reporters gave up. Frankly, it’s hard to ignore the stinking trail of mismanaged public safety. It’s impossible to ignore the wasted taxpayer dollars and student tuition at ASU. In the middle of a statewide budget crisis, cutbacks, and continued tuition increases the ASU administration continues to spend millions frivolously like the celebrities they imagine themselves to be. A far cry from the original charter of the university.
This particular story of waste is small in comparison, not millions, only $155,000 for John Pickens, the “Executive Director of University Security Initiatives“ to do what exactly? Delegate everything to subordinate supervisors who would then delegate to an army of subordinate supervisors the way John Pickens did while he was Chief at ASUPD? Apparently Pickens has nobody to delegate to anymore and do his homework for him.
His Executive Director job does have a goal, in the words of the Arizona State University,…
“…assist appropriate staff” to make sure ASU is prepared for emergencies, and “collaborate” with staff to review design plans for surveillance cameras in the renovated Sun Devil Stadium, among other things.“
Joe the plumber could describe a piece of shit to be an assistant collaborator to a clogged toilet and that is exactly what Morgan Olsen created by holding on to this liability to public safety in a vain attempt to save face, but nobody is buying it.
For an assistant collaborator $155,000 is not only quite a bit of money, it’s a fraud. They believe the public are idiots willing to trust in their public relations spin without end. Maybe they thought investigative reporters wouldn’t notice, maybe years of business as usual management makes them believe they are untouchable. Whatever the reason two wrongs don’t make a right. The University administration’s unwillingness to admit a problem with public safety only fuels more liability.
To buy the silence of the former shamed ASU Chief of Police John Pickens after the Ore/Ferrin incident, the university administration created a high-salaried fictitious position for him and a small office for him to occupy. The title, “Executive Director of University Security Initiatives” is a worthless empty position and the facts are clear.
If only Mr. Pickens could say, “Yes, I have been sitting on my ass for a year with nothing to show for it.” That’s honesty Mr. Pickens, something you and your cronies have always had a problem with.
The article states, “Neither ASU nor Pickens could provide documentation that he’s accomplished anything during his first year in the new job.” Hardly surprising considering after 14 years nothing substantial could be said about his tenure as chief except the work other people did and he took credit for. In his going away statement they listed building a new police station among other things he didn’t do.
Like the current ASUPD Chief Mike Thompson, he was frequently caught in lies by employees because he couldn’t remember how to keep the stories straight or realize his employees would easily find out the truth.
The article states, “The video-camera expansion project hasn’t yet been sent out for bids to private companies that will actually do the work. When asked for the budget of University Security Initiatives and for documents showing anyone else other than Pickens working for the department, ASU officials said there were no such records. No record of any such department exists on ASU’s extensive website, except for documents that refer to Pickens’ getting the job to direct it.”
Can you smell it? We do, and we commend the New Times for focusing on another AZ corruption story besides the Sheriff we already knew was corrupt and thought himself to be above the rules, above the law, the way ASUPD command staff has done for years without interruption.
Do a search for the position John Pickens was gifted, “Executive Director of University Security Initiatives “, try to find out about the man and what he does. You won’t find anything but a name, title, and a $155,000 bill for the tax payers of Arizona to be tossed on the backs of college students trying to pay off loans for years to come. What does Pickens do? According to some he hangs out at the Apple-bees restaurant on Rural Rd in Tempe getting to know the staff more than he got to know any police department employees. Maybe they can find him something he’s capable of doing since he has proven incapable of managing his time in his latest over-paid and under-worked endeavor.
His new position was not open to the public or other university employees as it was created and immediately gifted to John Pickens in a process even more shady than ASUPD internal promotions. In this position he still makes more than Chiefs of Police all over the state, while non-supervisory employees at the police department continue to make less than their counterparts after his long tenure as Chief of police.
The unethical hiring and promotional practices are long standing jokes within the ASU Police Department, qualified experienced candidates are overlooked as a rule for compliant inexperienced ones with little other employment options except ASUPD. Look at the internal processes for positions within the department, who applied, who was picked, who was rejected, and who was told they couldn’t apply despite being more qualified than the pool of applicants chosen. Apparently this is a university wide problem.
The irony of John Pickens being at the head of a technology driven initiative is lost on non-ASU Police employees who are unfamiliar with him. John Pickens spent 14 years at the department struggling with technology, how to use Microsoft Outlook and Word to the point where (as everyone knows) his secretary and subordinate staff had to compose his emails for them to be void of numerous spelling and grammatical errors. It would have been difficult to find a more unqualified applicant for the university’s continued Feel Safe without Being Safe Campaign (cameras don’t solve crimes, they just make people feel safe instead of actually being safe). This is how Morgan Olsen approaches the public safety and it’s something he knows little about.
When Ray Stern from the New Times was able to locate the high-priced Executive Director of Nothing and Nobody, John Pickens, he said things all too familiar to employees at ASUPD, “I’m not sitting around on my butt doing nothing,” he insisted to New Times. Pickens said he’s 66 years old and decided to take the security job because he needed a change. He’s working on “a number of things,” he said, adding that the security goals “are a work in progress.” Laughable lies in abundance. He didn’t decide to retire, he was forced out. He took this position because this was a saving face attempt by the university that benefited him and kept him silent.
Former ASUPD Chief John Pickens will spent his following years at the University hiding out in an office on the second floor of the University Services Building reporting to his former subordinate Alan Clark and his former direct supervisor Morgan Olsen. I’m sure his new boss Alan Clark remembers when AZDPS were called in to investigate the latest sexual harassment complaint against him and then good old boy Chief John Pickens let it sit on his desk until he retired and positioned himself to double dip at the university by returning as ASU’s Director of Emergency Preparedness in 2012.
That IA (internal police investigation of its own employees) went right in the trash once Pickens’s #2 retired, despite the ASUPD policy of an IA having to be conducted within months instead of years. Policy is always ignored when convenient, one of many ethical concerns with the Arizona State University Police Department and the people still running it like a backwoods good old boy club house with badges and guns.
The Arizona State University Administration refuses to formerly admit or comment on any pertinent issue of corruption or abuse within the university or the failures of management in public safety. However, they acknowledge the failures informally believing that a storm of public relations, swift new appointments, and outright lies will dissuade the public from the truth. The truth will always be there, issues with the ASUPD have been ignored, and any attempt to bring the issues to light has been met with attempts to silence, intimidate, and remove suspected critics.
Look at the investigation launched on current and former department employees suspected of writing this blog that was outsourced to the Arizona Department of Public Safety before Frank Milstead took over, found out about it, and supposedly ended it. The assault on the first amendment is nothing new at the University under Michael Crow, there’s a long history of it at his “New American University”.
When John Pickens says, “I’m not sitting around on my butt doing nothing.” do you believe it? Read the New Times Article and ask yourself if he’s believable or not.
We say, “Bullshit JP, prove it or else you’re still the self-serving liar we know you to be.” Keep digging New Times, you’ll find the proverbial bodies for mismanagement, corruption, and many more undesirable practices at the Arizona State University, especially within the police department.
Here’s the contact information of Arizona State University administration:
- Arizona State University President Michael Crow
- Arizona State University Executive Vice President, Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer Morgan Olsen (480)727-9920 Morgan.R.Olsen@asu.edu
- Arizona State University VP HR/Chief Human Res Officer
HR Office of Human Resources
Administrative Staff Kevin Salcido (480)965-6608 Kevin.J.Salcido@asu.edu
- Arizona State University Executive Director of University Security Initiatives John Pickens (480)727-5842 John.Pickens@asu.edu
See what they have to say about these issues, but be prepared to get a vague canned response if you get one at all. To that I say continue submitting Freedom Of Information Act Requests, FOIA, contact your Arizona State governor, Arizona state legislature, and Arizona board of regents for clarity and accountability. Document everything and prepare to be surprised by how ugly the truth is. The ASU administration needs to realize you can’t protect the public with lies, broken promises, public relations, cameras, gimmicks, or unqualified unethical police department leadership that doesn’t have the confidence or respect of the people they lead.
What can anyone say? It’s all true. The only thing Pickens could say was that,”I’m not sitting around on my butt doing nothing.” For anyone who is familiar with the way he ran ASUPD that means he’s doing what he says he’s not doing.
I blame Dr Crow and Morgan Olsen for lowering the bar and rewarding dishonest public safety leadership at the university.
“John Pickens works hard for his money.”, said nobody ever. Did they really think the truth about his new position wouldn’t get out?
To answer your question, YES, they thought nobody was looking. Pickens got away with it at the PD during his 14 years as it’s head, but he was able to hide out there.
As the chief finance guy and Pickens’s boss, according to this article, Morgan Olsen should have some answers for the public on what this highly appointed and paid employee has been doing for a whole year. This executive director pay of $155,000 is for what? Nothing. Thanks for wasting our money.
He still advertises himself as Chief on his Linked In profile. He just can’t let go of all the power he had as a university police chief.
When someone takes something that’s not there’s, something they didn’t earn, or hold to an agreement we call that THEFT.
If you have a job in state government, take the money for that job, but don’t do any provable work isn’t that along the same lines?
I sincerely hope the focus of this is not lost and the reporters continue to look deeper into these issues.
At the very least this is a blatent abuse of the public trust, a misrepresentation, fraud, misuse of public funds.
If he can’t show he did any work for a whole year, for the $155 thousand dollars, he should be fired. That’s the real world.
Wasting more state money during state funding cutbacks for the university, brilliant!
It looks like it’s time for a change. It’s time to get some employees under Pickens so he can present their work as his own, it’s a trend at the university.
His boss is responsible for this, can’t supervise him for a whole year?!?
It’s wonderful there are no employees under him, it showcases his lack of work ethic, lack of ethics entirely.
I have been following the story of Chief Pickens’s departure and rapid appointment during the “ASU professor gate” situation. How is this possible?
How can they justify asking for a penny increase in funding from the state or tuition hikes when they have people like Pickens on the payroll at $155K who do nothing? This isn’t right.
It’s possible because the only people to hold them accountable are the reporters and some online blog called the Integrity Report.
ABOR and the state legislature, governor have looked the other way so far.
DontLOLmeJP, the state legislature should have more oversight on how the university manages issues of public importance. There is clearly a conflict of interest with the university administration having control over public safety.
Nowhere is this more evident than at ASUPD with the retention of corrupt public safety officials, top heavy overcompensated management, and misdirecting policing resources hampers policing efforts.
If the news continues to dig they will find more and more dirt on this former chief, his bosses, and the sorry state of readiness at the police department.
Worthless…absolutely worthless, more money being siphoned off to feed a public safety administration at the university that does nothing.
When you know that you haven’t done a god damn thing and you put yourself in a position to lie to the public you are either soft in the head, too cocky to think you will be called to task, you believe your own lies, you feel invincible, you just don’t care, or a little something from each.
Raise tuition, beg for more public money, it’s time to put more fat on the hog, build more lavish buildings, spend, spend, spend.
As long as the state government looks the other way and students go further into debt to pay for spending sprees what is their incentive to stop?
Does ABOR have any answers for rampant university spending during a tight budget year? Can they can explain the Pickens retainer phenomenon?
ABOR thinks Crow walks on water. I know this because of direct contact with them. Since Crow walks on water, everything under him is golden and no one batts an eye at him….
What does ex-ASU Police Chief John I Finger Paint Pickens know that this university administration is so worried about?
What did they give him a yearly $155,000 stipend/bribe to stay quiet about? I want to know that! Can the you guys figure that out?
He knows where the missing hookers can be found.
That’s a good question. There has to be a reason he’s being paid to do nothing, a reason he was handed a position nobody else had an opportunity for, and a tech position he’s unqualified for. I want to know what it is.
We have been wondering for years, how does a man who does nothing for so long, manages a police department so poorly, get to keep his job?
Here’s an accounting principle Morgan Olsen isn’t familiar with, perhaps $155,000 in wasted public safety dollars can be spent elsewhere to hire employees who actually do the job they’re employed for? What a concept!
He’s in Michael Crow’s public relations witness protection program. His job is to sit in that office, shuffle papers around, click the mouse, and when under inquiry repeat the statements, “It’s a work in progress.” and “I’m working on a number of things.”
Morgan Olsen, write another check for this ass for 2016, plus a bonus check for having to answer tough questions concerning the lack of work he did in 2015.
It’s small change to them and it’s not their money.
It’s good to see JP under fire and not skating away from responsibility for a change. JP is the number one reason ASUPD has been so messed up for so long.
This is a public service career and his mismanagement of the department for years was the greatest dis-service possible in his position.
He couldn’t have done it alone. He had plenty of willing accomplices who were following his lead and looking out only for themselves. This latest appointment he’s occupied for a year is a prime example of ASU administration at the police department and the university looking out for themselves and forgetting the public that they are trusted to serve.
For the sake of the public this management and fiscal irresponsibility needs to be further investigated and reported.
Nice job Ray Stern! I don’t have a problem with the News Times looking at law enforcement and holding it accountable for doing the right thing. After all, that’s the purpose of being in law enforcement, doing the right thing!
We should make sure others are doing the right thing, especially if they share a uniform with us. Nobody did this with Pickens or any of the problem people at ASUPD he left behind. This article is pointing the finger in the right direction. It’s pointed right at the problem.
I’m surprised more people aren’t looking into how the managerial graft, cronyism, dirty politics, conflicts of interest, all affect public safety.
I enjoyed this story, the exposure of this fraud, but there’s so much more to dig up than paying this puppet to sit in a box.
I would have liked to hear the recording of JP bumbling for an answer to explain his lack of doing anything to earn $155,000 public safety dollars from the state of Arizona. He must think he’s still at the PD.
The truth is he hasn’t done anything, they just wanted his ass out of there and replaced him with another horse’s ass yes man who can’t be trusted by the department or public.
Pickens was out Mike Thompson was intern chief and where was he? He was hanging out at the Fulton Center politicking so he could be chief after they were done with the fake national search routine. Is it any wonder that every time they have pretended to open the search for exterior candidates they always pick an inside existing guy?
More entities, official entities, need to be looking at how the university does business and manages it’s affairs.
Thank god we have journalists looking into things otherwise nobody would be the wiser and there would be no hope corrupt practices would change.
This makes his boss look like an idiot for failing to manage the details of the make-believe job he created for Pickens. I’m glad some truth is getting out about how the university operates.
Pickens is no worse than the command he left behind. The only reason he doesn’t sit in the do nothing asupd chief office today is because of the Ore/Ferrin story.
Pickens was a good yes man for them who shared the same contempt for police officers at the university. The department lost a lot of talent and retained little under his command.
One needs to ask Dr. Morgan Olsen why Mr. Pickens is being paid an extraordinary amount of money for a position that he might not even be qualified for.
As a concerned citizen and taxpayer, this is not how we should be investing our hard earned tax dollars without some type of acceptable return on investment.
I hope additional media outlets look into the alleged fraud, waste, and abuse that might be currently going on with the position that Mr. Pickens currently occupies at Arizona State University.
Also, if Mr. Pickens was indeed unceremoniously removed from the position of chief of police at Arizona State University, then why would university administrators reward him with another high paying position within the university? This certainly needs to be looked into.
Why would university administrators elect to promptly reward Pickens with another high-paying position within the university after being technically “fired” as chief of police? Perhaps to save face and not have to admit that maybe some employees were spot-on with their candid assessment of Pickens and how he mismanaged the police department for many years.
You have to look at the climate at the time as well. ASU was taking it in the chin from the black community over a party that was held by a frat and the theme was disparaging to blacks, Tempe PD was publicly holding ASU accountable for the behavior of the students that was occurring off campus, Ferrin arrested Ore, it was clear Pickens needed to go but we’re they going to fire the black chief and further enrage the black community?
No! They drove a bus over Ferrin and moved to Pickens to a non existent position to appease the race batters and buy Pickens silence.
President Crow is nothing more than the devil in disguise.
It’s outrageous that John Pickens continues to thrive monetarily because some within the university hierarchy appear to allow political correctness to drive some of their decision-making.
Thank you Ray Stern and the New Times for an in-depth and insightful article on ex-police chief John Pickens and ASU.
On Oct. 21, 2015, The Arizona Republic published a front-page article on ASU: “Public Disservice: Discrimination, harassment settlements add up for ASU.” This, too, is an in-depth and insightful article on ASU written by Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Rob O’Dell.
Not long ago, the university and its police department’s leadership were hell-bent on shutting down the Integrity Report blog through AZDPS by initiating bogus investigations and targeting certain ASUPD employees.
Needless to say, the university and police department’s inept and feeble attempt to infringe on citizens’ First Amendment rights did not succeed.
A big thank you to the Integrity Report blog as well as the media outlets that continue to ask tough questions and demand truthful answers from public officials who think that they are not accountable to anyone but themselves.
Bottom line: A well-educated and well-informed public is the only way we can hold public officials fully accountable in the end.