An anonymous letter sent by “numerous employees of the Buckeye [AZ] Police Department” has called into question the operations of the department. Allegations range from bullying to criminal activities. The letter has led to the appointment of an outside investigator to examine the allegations, but even that appointment has been questioned.
The letter, which has been redacted to remove names and, presumably, other details, has now been made available to the public. The letter states that it is being sent anonymously because anyone who in the past has voiced concerns about the actions of the administration has been “targeted” and subjected to discipline, transfers and demotions. Finally, the letter says that all the allegations can be verified by witnesses and a “paper trail.”
The issues raised include the following:
- Misappropriation of Funds. The authors claim that on numerous occasions, City funds (from the PD’s travel and training budget) have been used for travel to California, supposedly for business purposes. In fact, the letter alleges, those funds were used to finance an extramarital affair.
- Falsification of Crime Statistics. The letter says that intentional changes were made in the crime statistics to show a lower crime rate in the City. These statistics are important, not only because they are reported to the U.S. Department of Justice, but also because they are used to demonstrate how safe a particular area is. In that regard, Buckeye has been listed in some reports as one of the safest cities in the Valley. The letter specifically states that the falsification involves “Part I crimes.” These include most of the more serious crimes, including murder, robbery, aggravated assault, rape, burglary, theft and arson.
- Dishonesty and Falsification of Police Reports. The letter states that an officer made a decision concerning a domestic violence incident that led to the death of two innocent people. It goes on to say that the decision was falsely attributed to a subordinate, when in fact it was made by a higher-ranking officer. Other allegations along these lines include failure to impound evidence, covering up motor vehicle pursuits that violated department policy, illegal searches and seizures, violation of the body cam policy, and perjury.
- Conflict of Interest. It is known that two high-ranking officers have side jobs as partners in a private security business, which the authors claim is a conflict of interest.
- Departmental Politics. It is alleged that discipline and career advancement are not based on merit.
We could go on, but you get the idea. But perhaps the most interesting aspect of this entire debacle is the choice of the person, Burley Copeland, now charged with investigating the allegations. The city chose Copeland, a “rookie private investigator” with no publicly listed business phone, no website, and no social media footprint. Copeland has decades of experience with DPS, but no one has come forward to explain exactly how or why he got the job.
On the other hand, the FBI is now involved, presumably because of the alleged crime stats falsification. Expect to hear more on this one.
Law Offices of David A. Black
40 North Central Avenue #1850
Phoenix, AZ 85004