Chief Jerry Geier and Deputy Chief Justin Hughes The Goodyear Police Department

The Goodyear Police Department is without its top leaders, with Chief Jerry Geier (left) and Deputy Chief Justin Hughes (right) placed on administrative leave.

Goodyear’s top cops were placed on leave “due to allegations of impropriety.”

The Goodyear Police Department was  rocked with its police chief, deputy police chief, an officer and an administrative person all placed on administrative leave last week.

The city did not make a formal announcement but responded to some questions.

“Today (Oct. 7), Chief Jerry Geier and Deputy Chief Justin Hughes were placed on paid administrative leave due to recent allegations of impropriety,” spokeswoman Tammy Vo wrote in an email.

“In addition, two other department employees were also recently placed on leave due to additional allegations of wrongdoing. 

“Placing these employees on leave is important in order to provide the neutral environment and support needed while outside counsel reviews the situation. The city of Goodyear values the public’s trust and takes these types of accusations seriously and is committed to conducting a thorough review.”

Goodyear Mayor Georgia Lord did not reply to questions regarding her confidence in the Goodyear Police Department.

The city did not say which law enforcement agency is handling the investigation.

“Outside counsel is handling the review,” Vo wrote.

“Our other deputy chief is overseeing the department for the time being, and the other two employees involved are an officer and a staff member in administrative support.”

According to Vo, Geier was hired Jan. 9, 2012. His annual salary is $187,735.

Hughes was hired April 3, 2006. His salary is  $102,177.

Officer Kyle Cluff, hired five years ago, was also placed on administrative leave.

Susan Petty, the fourth employee placed on leave, was listed by the city as the  administrative service manager for the Police Department. Petty has worked for Goodyear for 22 years.

Petty, Cluff, Hughes and Geier will continue to be paid while on administrative leave.

Geier made headlines in 2014. Just two-and-half years into his stint with Goodyear, Geier applied to be the St. Petersburg, Florida, police chief.

He was named a finalist but was later passed over for the job.

Yuma tapped Geier, a former director of the Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco, as its police chief in March 2009. After two years in Yuma, he applied for the then-vacant Goodyear position.

Before moving to Arizona, Geier was a law enforcement officer in Florida for 30 years. 

Last November, Goodyear Officer Matthew Ross was investigated after video emerged showing him dragging a woman from her car before punching her. An investigation found Ross acted appropriately because the woman was aggressively resisting arrest.

“The Goodyear Police Department is built on the values of integrity, professionalism and the ethical treatment of everyone we contact,” Geier stated  after the investigation.

“I take the actions of my officers very seriously, so it was important to me to send this case to another law enforcement agency for a fair and impartial investigation.”

Now, Geier finds himself as the subject of an investigation.

This is not the first time a West Valley top cop has come under scrutiny.

Last November, Buckeye suspended Police Chief Larry Hall for 40 hours “due to violations of city policy,” according to Buckeye Communications Manager Annie DeChance.

Buckeye declined to provide details of the investigation.

The Goodyear Police Department’s 2018 annual report states there were 173 complaints against the department in 2018, and explains how complaints are investigated.

“The Professional Standards Unit (PSU) operates directly under the authority of the Chief of Police,” the report states. “Its goal is to ensure that the integrity of the department is maintained through a fair, thorough and timely system of internal investigations that are conducted in accordance with accepted department and city policies and procedures.

“...  PSU investigated 173 complaints against employees in 2018. Only 13 incidents resulted in a full Administrative Investigation, compared to 14 in the prior year.” 

Vo was asked who made the decision to place Geier, Hughes, Cluff and Petty on leave and how the rest of the city’s employees were notified.

“City management put the chiefs on leave,” Vo responded. “Staff was notified the same day as well as mayor and council. That’s all we can provide at this point.”