A Phoenix sergeant who blew the whistle about inaccurate kidnapping statistics is facing termination for writing a series of memos that criticized the Phoenix Police Department.
On Tuesday, a discipline review board recommended that Sgt. Phil Roberts be fired. It’s a decision an Ahwatukee city councilman and union leaders call clear retaliation.
“He exposed the problems with the Phoenix Police Department and their numbers, and then he goes through hell,” said Councilman Sal DiCiccio, who’s been outspoken about Roberts’ case.
Roberts wrote a memo to the City Manager’s Office on Aug. 2, 2009.
In that letter, he said he believed there were problems with the city’s kidnapping statistics and that they were “moved and shifted.”
However, less then three weeks after sending the memo, Roberts was placed under internal investigation. That case was followed by four more internal investigations.
Those investigations were left open for the next two years.
During that time, attorneys for Roberts filed a lawsuit in federal court. They were in the discovery process and were also deposing top police officials.
Officials with the Phoenix Police Sergeants and Lieutenants Association, the union that represents Roberts, told ABC15 that the city sent them a message last week with an ultimatum.
The city wanted Roberts to go to mediation in order to stop the lawsuit and discovery process or he’ll be disciplined for the internal investigations that were opened two years ago.
Roberts turned the city’s request down.
According to the union, the discipline board sustained three allegations against Roberts.
The board found that Roberts should not have sent his memos outside of his chain of command. They also claimed that he made false statements in those memos.
The third allegation was that Roberts used city property for personal gain because he wrote his memos on a piece of paper with the city of Phoenix logo on it.
Roberts has not been officially terminated yet.
The discipline board’s recommendation has to be approved by Chief Daniel Garcia.
Phoenix police declined an interview request. They also did not respond to specific questions.
However, in a written statement, a police spokesperson wrote: “The allegations of misconduct addressed in Internal Investigation PSB10-0112 were presented to the Discipline Review Board on November 27, 2012. The Board recommended the employee be terminated. The Chief is currently reviewing the materials and the Board’s recommendation but has not made a final decision.”
The move to fire Roberts also follows a year-long investigation by the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General that found widespread problems with the city’s kidnapping statistics.
Federal investigators also determined that Phoenix police did retaliate against Roberts because they “failed to vet” his claims.