"Tempe Cesspool for the Arts"

aka "Tempe Center for the Arts"

Tempe homicide detective slapped on wrist for major f* ups

  From this article it sounds like cops are given almost NO supervision compared to employees in the private sector.

Also from the article it sounds like cops who totally screw up their work will at most get a mild slap on the wrist for punishment don't have to worry about being fired.


Tempe detective punished for inaction

By Jackee Coe The Republic | azcentral.com Fri Dec 21, 2012 10:13 PM

A Tempe police homicide detective took a demotion and was given a lengthy suspension after it was discovered that he stored evidence at his home and failed to complete multiple reports.

As a result, charges were not filed in some of those cases.

A Tempe Police Department internal investigation found that Officer Tony Trow, an 11-year veteran, kept case notes and evidence, including digital recordings of interviews, photographs and fingerprint cards, in his bedroom and garage for nearly two years while he was a detective.

It also found that he did not complete reports in 10 cases from 2004 to 2009 for crimes that included sexual assault, aggravated assault, robbery and homicide. Some of those cases now are beyond the statute of limitations for prosecution.

The internal investigation recommended that Trow be fired, but he appealed to Police Chief Tom Ryff, who made the decision to give Trow the maximum suspension instead.

Trow, a detective from April 2003 to November 2010, has been removed from criminal investigations and placed on patrol, given a 7 percent pay cut and suspended without pay for 160 hours. His supervisor, Sgt. Mike Hill, also was moved to patrol, given a 5 percent pay cut and an unpaid 80-hour suspension.

“Detectives have a higher expectation from the community to make decisions that make a case prosecutable and thus bring offenders to justice,” the internal investigation states. “A preponderance of evidence demonstrates that Officer Trow knowingly violated policy in evidence handling and completing police investigations.”

The department has submitted its internal investigation to the Arizona Peace Officers Standards and Training Board for review to determine whether Trow’s actions warrant a temporary or permanent loss of his certification.

Sgt. Mike Pooley, Tempe police spokesman, said he is confident the investigation was thorough and the discipline appropriate, but he said the case was referred to the peace officers board to get a second opinion.

Bob Irish, compliance manager for the regulatory agency, said it had received a package of documents on Trow’s case Wednesday afternoon. Irish said it is unusual for a police agency to report an officer who has not been dismissed. A referral is required when officers are fired.

It will take a week or two to sort through Trow’s case and decide what, if any, action should be pursued, Irish said.

“We have no idea if we would go to the board or not,’’ he said.

Trow was contrite about his failures and voluntarily returned to patrol in 2010, accepting a pay cut because he was feeling overwhelmed by his detective duties.

“I whole-heartedly accept responsibility for my failures,” Trow wrote Aug. 31 in a letter to Ryff. “My heart has always been in the right place while working for this organization, and I never intended for anything other than full completion of my overdue cases.”

Pooley said several factors went into Ryff’s decision, including that Trow was honest and forthright from the beginning, that there was nothing criminal about his actions, and he hadn’t had any prior issues. Among the biggest factors, Pooley said, was that Trow was overwhelmed.

Trow told department investigators he did not complete the reports because he lacked organizational and time-management skills and either procrastinated writing them or was too overwhelmed by the workload, according to the investigation.

“As an organization, we’re responsible for our employees. We’re responsible for making sure they have the adequate training ... to perform their job,” Pooley said. “It was the supervisor’s job to make sure that Tony had the training, had the organizational skills needed, which he knew that Trow lacked, and never got him any assistance.”

Pooley said the Tempe Police Department will be implementing a new case-management system in its criminal-investigations division this spring to help supervisors better track cases.

Trow’s shortcomings surfaced in March and the internal investigation launched after Trow was asked if he had completed the report on a murder at the Clubhouse, a nightclub, in 2007. Trow admitted he had failed to finish the report, Pooley said.

“This should’ve never happened,” Pooley said. “Obviously, justice isn’t going to be served on a couple of these cases.”

Jeff Millen, president of the Tempe Officers Association, praised Ryff’s decision.

“The review and disciplinary process undertaken in this case was fair, balanced, and took into account all relevant factors related to the matter. The Tempe Officers Association supports Chief Ryff’s decision and the final disciplinary outcome for the involved employees,” Millen said in a statement.

The cases on which Trow did not complete reports, according to the internal investigation, include:

A jewelry-store robbery in 2004, in which Trow submitted charges on the girlfriend of one of the suspects but closed the case before gathering enough evidence to submit charges against the two men who committed the robbery. The statute of limitations has expired so charges no longer can be filed.

An aggravated assault in 2004, in which a person was threatened by two suspects with a small sword and baseball bat. Only one suspect was charged and Trow made little effort to locate the second. The statue of limitations has expired.

A sexual assault in 2005, for which Trow had completed the investigation but did not write the report, resulting in the rape kit never being tested and charges not being filed. Trow said he procrastinated on that report because the 17-year-old victim wouldn’t cooperate.

A murder investigation in 2007 at the Clubhouse venue. Trow said he had not completed the report because “over time things became so overwhelming that he didn’t want to write the report.”

A death investigation at a Motel 6 in 2008, in which Trow “put off writing this report because he knew it was going to be a daunting task.” He turned in a supplemental report but his supervisor said he needed to include more information. Trow did not work on it again.

Death investigations in 2007 and 2008 and an infant death in 2009, in which he assisted other detectives. Trow failed to complete his supplemental reports, despite the detectives asking him to do so.

When Trow was reassigned to patrol in 2010, he took home case files, notes, recorded interviews, videos and photographs, and other evidence from several cases so he could complete the reports at home, according to the investigation.

“The end result of this was that several suspects were not prosecuted, cases were prosecuted without the benefit of all available evidence, and information may have been lost or mislaid from investigations,” the investigation states.

“Priorities were always shifting for him and whenever he switched assignments he would bring his old cases with him,” the investigation states. “He thought he could handle the situation and never told his supervisors that he couldn’t handle more.”

Republic reporter Jim Walsh contributed to this article.


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