Tag Archives: ASU police chief john l pickens is now line cook at mcdonalds

The beginning of the end for Chief Pickens and ASUPD Command Staff

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
Police Department

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.

Stand by.

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Breaking down ASUPD’s morale problem, piece by piece!

Shifting gears a bit, we are going to do a series of posts breaking down ASUPD’s morale problems piece by piece. If any of you have any suggestions for topics you’d like us to cover, feel free to drop a line to firstamendmentftw@hushmail.com.

First up in this segment, we’ll be discussing one major contributor to ASUPD’s low morale, and that is the lack of uniformity/transparency in the discipline or internal affairs (IA) process.

According to ASUPD’s Policy Manual PSM 261-01: : “It is the policy of the ASU Police Department to foster a program of discipline which
defines the word ‘discipline’ as ‘training or development through instruction’. This will enable the department to retain its discretionary authority for the ‘individualized’ imposition of disciplinary action while ensuring a systematic and consistent administration of discipline to all personnel.”

Essentially, the department has stated that it will determine what, if any, discipline is appropriate in any situation. It is possible to have two officers disciplined differently for the same offense. Also, who is ensuring that discipline is systematic and consistent? The department itself? This gives the appearance of an extreme conflict of interest; one sole entity (the Command staff) cannot be the judge, jury, and executioner for an officer’s discipline process.

Now let’s address some real situations where ASUPD has failed to uniformly discipline or investigate its employees.

  • Several employees have been investigated for allegedly “scuffing” a patrol car, this becomes especially important if one of those employees is trying to lateral out of the department, despite already notifying a supervisor and writing a memo for the entire incident.
  • Some employees get investigated for minor damage vehicle accidents, others do not.
  • An employee has been investigated for allegedly denting a patrol car weeks after the incident took place, after several officers had used that vehicle in the meantime and routinely haven’t signed it out for overtime events.
  • Several employees have been investigated and received some form of punishment for failing to submit their times sheets on time.
  • Several employees were the subjects of investigation, discipline, to include time off from work, for photoshopping pictures making fun of the workplace.
  • One employee trying to leave to another agency, with no discipline in his file for 7 years, was immediately notified of two outstanding internal affairs. Another employee trying to leave to another agency was notified of four outstanding internal affairs against him by the agency he applied to prior to ASUPD notifying him of the internal affairs!

Contrast this with issues including CRIMES of ASUPD supervisors that don’t get investigated:

  • A supervisor who has been investigated several times for using racial slurs (including to a black officer in training) and has received no punishment, his friends cover for him every time.
  • A supervisoe tases a handcuffed prisoner in custody four times with another officer present. No internal affair is done, instead a informal inquiry is done months later with no time off, administrative leave, for the employee. The “investigator” didn’t even bother to interview the officer who was there because he was told what conclusion he needed to have by the chief. (Sounds like aggravated assault, four counts.)
  • A supervisor who has allegedly falsified documents with no investigation or punishment into the situation despite this being common department knowledge.
  • A supervisor has allegedly falsified time sheets with no known investigation.
  • A supervisor who has taken home public documents and files (a recent Tempe PD employee was fired for this same situation).
  • A supervisor who has taken department-issued equipment home for personal use for months.
  • A former Assistant Chief who received no punishment and was allowed to retire from his position, despite the fact that the Chief had knowledge the employee had sexually harassed female employees and was being investigated by DPS. This investigation was delivered to the chief and sat on his desk for over a year allowing this employee to be eligible for rehiring by the university. When this employee “left” Chief Pickens was free to make the investigation disappear.
  • Another friend of the chief, a civilian employee entrusted with money, decides to give herself a pay raise. ASU human resources catches the crime, notifies Chief Pickens and the employee was allowed to retire once the money was paid back.

See a discrepancy here? We do!

One very incident in which a supervisor (Sgt. Pam Osborne) disobeyed a direct order from a supervisor is a prime example of the arbitrary nature of ASU’s discipline process (and one major contributor to low morale, which eventually leads to a higher employee turnover). Sgt. Osborne was issued a direct order from her supervisor advising her NOT to park in from of the Tempe Station (which she routinely did and continues to do).


After this email was sent out, Sgt. Osborne continued to park in front of the Tempe station, after explicitly being instructed NOT to. Another employee also continued to park in the PD compound ALSO after being told explicitly not to. Neither employee has received any discipline nor been involved in an investigation, despite disobeying orders from a supervisor. However, an employee WILL be investigated for submitting a time sheet late, even if the mistake was not intentional.

Lack of uniformity and transparency in discipline at ASUPD only serves to harm morale. and subsequently officer staffing! If employees don’t feel they are being treated fairly (while others act with impunity), they have ZERO motivation to promote or stay invested in ASUPD. Furthermore, circumstances such as the above mentioned just further prove that Command staff has no ability to impartially investigate its own problems. (The public visible license plate identification is blocked to protect the subject in question. Police employees do not have safe parking, but must park their vehicles in Parking Structure One or any other lot with the rest of the public. We were notified that Commander William Orr and Assistant Chief Mike Thompson both claim to CARPOOL to work and have preferential CARPOOL parking spots on the south side of Parking Structure One. They both ride to work alone and do not see or care about the integrity issue of lying to state government, ASU Parking, about carpooling, what’s next? Handicapped parking?)  The ASUPD command routinely does employee retention internal affairs for little or nothing on baseline employees, we expect them to do what they’ve done so far with these lying employees who pick and choose what rules to follow, nothing.)

Thank you for the photo submissions, this was by far the best one received. We would also like to thank the Arizona Department of Public Safety, Highway Patrol, for educating ASUPD’s undereducated command staff on the difference between a crime and what is at best a policy violation. This is a whistleblower on a supervisor of police officers breaking the law, Tempe municipal code. Read the sign again and obey the oath of ethics you swore to uphold. Don’t dishonor the uniform any more than you already have.

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