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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.