Last month, the Goodyear City Council approved the city’s 2020-21 budget, which is dominated by a $28 million police budget—a slight increase from the 2019-20 police budget of $27.4 million.
During the budget process, no mention of the department’s multiple investigations—from an office worker up to the chief—were made by Mayor Georgia Lord or any of the city council members who unanimously approved the budget.
City Manager Julie Arendall also was silent on police department misdeeds as she urged approval of the budget.
In October, the city of Goodyear launched four investigations regarding Goodyear Police Department employees.
An independent investigator found three of the employees were dishonest. Jerry Geier, the chief of police, was fired in January and lost his appeal. Kyle Cluff, a veteran officer, resigned before his investigation became public.
The investigation regarding Deputy Chief Justin Hughes has been completed but has not been released. He continues to use personal leave, according to Tammy Vo, a city spokeswoman.
Even though two of the police department’s 2019 leaders were under intense scrutiny, Arendall said she has not requested an independent investigation of the Goodyear Police Department.
“Based on the results of the investigation, which began last October, the city determined that the issues within the Goodyear Police Department were isolated to a few individuals and not representative of the overall culture or practices of the department,” she said in an email responding to questions from the West Valley View.
However, investigations into police officers continue.
Police Chief Santiago Rodriguez (who became acting chief when Geier and Hughes were suspended, then was promoted when Geier was fired) served Michael Irvine, another veteran Goodyear officer, a notice of investigation and placed Irvine on administrative leave Jan. 27.
Irvine resigned “effective immediately” in a two-sentence email he sent April 30. He did not give a reason for his resignation but said, “Thank you for my time with the department.”
Two dozen police investigations
In October, Marcus Patterson, president of the Goodyear Police Officers Association, submitted a complaint with multiple allegations against Geier. Patterson claimed Geier favored female employees, including Alison Braughton, a former officer who resigned after multiple investigations. (Geier unsuccessfully argued Patterson and Hughes conspired to get him fired, with the goal of Hughes replacing him as chief.)
Though many of the allegations from the union were found to be unsubstantiated, Donald Conrad, an independent investigator, found Geier to be untruthful on several issues. Conrad said Geier lied about how he handled an alleged hit-and-run by Braughton.
On Oct. 23, Sgt. Jason Bayer of the Goodyear Police Professional Standards Unit provided Conrad “a list of current and former Goodyear Police Department employees who were investigated and received formal discipline from the Goodyear Police Department.”
Eighteen employees—12 still with the department, six who had retired or resigned—were on the list.
Goodyear Police officers were disciplined for improperly investigating a possible rape, confronting a school principal about a private matter while in uniform, failing to file reports in a timely fashion (in one case leading to the release of a suspect), and driving dangerously.
As Bayer’s 60-page document included only completed investigations, it did not include complaints and investigations on Irvine, Geier, Hughes, Cluff and Susan Petty (a former administrative manager who was found guilty of being untruthful and was demoted in January).
Adding those five, at least 23 current and former Goodyear employees have been investigated, with 21 found to have violated department policies with discipline ranging from letters of warning to termination. Many of the investigations included multiple findings of policy violations.
According to its most-recent published annual report, the Goodyear Police Department has 110 officers.
The report lists the department’s core values, including “Integrity: be consistent, trustworthy and transparent.”
The West Valley View emailed Lord and the six Goodyear City Council elected representatives, asking about their confidence in the department, in light of multiple investigations and disciplinary actions up to the chief being fired.
None responded as of press time.
Professional Standards Unit
Asked about the portion of the Goodyear Police Department budget set aside for complaints, Arendall responded, “The Goodyear Police Department has a fully funded Professional Standards Division which oversees training, hiring and recruitment and the Professional Standard Unit. That unit also handles, in part, internal investigations, audits and inspections. The unit also manages training and supplies for the entire department and pays for hiring and recruitment of any new employees.
“The FY 20-21 budget for this entire division is $106,900 not including staff salaries.”
The $106,900 is less than 1% of the Goodyear Police Department’s $28 million budget.
The 2018 Goodyear Police Department Annual Report, authored by Geier, was on the city’s website (goodyearaz.gov) as of June 29.
The 2018 report said the Bayer-led Professional Standards Unit “investigated 173 complaints against employees in 2018. Only 13 incidents resulted in a full administrative investigation, compared to 14 in the prior year.”
More recent data has not been published.
“The 2019 Police Department Annual Report is currently in production,” Vo said.
According to the 2018 report, the Goodyear Police Department investigated four homicides, 33 rapes, 33 robberies, 133 aggravated assaults and 98 vehicle thefts in 2018.
The department responded to more than 50,000 calls for service in 2018, according to the report.
Though he has not been to work since he was suspended with pay in October, Justin Hughes remains deputy chief of the Goodyear Police Department.
The agenda for the 8 a.m. Thursday, July 2, Police Public Safety Personnel Retirement Board meeting includes “review, consider and possible action on the application and medical records for accidental disability—Justin Hughes.”
Hughes applied for disability retirement April 1. The personnel board has discussed his case in executive session (not open to the public) several times since.
The West Valley View requested complaints made against Hughes before or after his October investigation. The city of Goodyear has not provided them as of publication time.
The West Valley View also requested any complaints related to the Irvine investigation.
“As it relates to the ‘complaint’ for Michael Irvine, I’ve been informed that there is administrative investigation still ongoing, and has not yet been completed. Once it is complete, we will release those documents to you,” said Stephanie King, Goodyear’s Legal Services coordinator.
A Millennium High graduate, Irvine was hired by the Goodyear Police Department in 2011. He was promoted to detective in 2018.
A glowing annual review in 2014 praised him for saving a woman’s life.
“Officer Irvine, you are always on top of what your squad is doing and have (been) excellent with your required and assigned duties. Your work ethic is second to none,” the review stated. “Over the past year you have received several compliments from your administration and external customers regarding your professionalism and work ethic. In July you (received) a merit award regarding your efforts to save a woman’s life who had stopped breathing. Your valiant efforts by doing CPR until (paramedics) arrived several minutes later. ...
“If it was not for your efforts the female would have passed away.”
Last week, the city of Goodyear posted a job opening for a deputy chief of police, with an annual pay range of $124,492 to $159,346.
According to the ad, “Honor, integrity and transparency are fundamental to building a model agency in the law enforcement community. ... The men and women of the Goodyear Police Department are proud that 9 in 10 residents say they feel safe in their neighborhood.”