Phoenix Police Department fires kidnapping whistleblower, Sgt. Phil Roberts - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Valley And State

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Phoenix Police Department fires kidnapping whistleblower, Sgt. Phil Roberts

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Posted: Tuesday, January 29, 2013 2:34 pm

PHOENIX - The Phoenix Police Department officially terminated a sergeant who blew the whistle on bad kidnapping statistics.

Chief Daniel Garcia approved the firing of Sgt. Phil Roberts, a 27-year veteran, on Friday.

The ABC15 Investigators have been following Roberts' situation for more than two years.

His attorneys and union leaders say he was retaliated against for writing memos that outlined several problems within the police department, including the kidnapping statistics.

After writing those memos, Roberts was placed under multiple internal investigations.

City and police officials have repeatedly denied any retaliation of Roberts. However, in December, the ABC15 Investigators obtained several documents that contradicted their claims .

Among those documents were hand-written notes from a 2010 meeting just days after Roberts wrote a memo to the City Manager's Office.

According to the notes taken by an official at the meeting, in attendance were former Public Safety Manager Jack Harris, Assistant City Manager Ed Zuercher, City Attorney Gary Verburg as well as the city’s human resources director, public information officer and a police department spokesman.

The notes also indicate that officials “directed staff to investigate Phil Roberts.”

Roberts is now suing the City of Phoenix. He could not be reached for comment.

Phoenix Police also declined to comment on the termination because of Roberts' lawsuit.

But in a written statement, a spokesperson said, "Sergeant Roberts was terminated for sustained allegations of misconduct as set forth in administrative investigation number PSB10-0112. His last day worked for the Police Department was January 25, 2013."

According the administrative investigation, 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 pieces of paper with the City of Phoenix logo on it.

Personnel records show that Roberts had a spotless career before he wrote the kidnapping memos.

The ABC15 Investigators have also learned that Phoenix Police tried to cut two deals with Roberts if he would drop or settle his lawsuit.

Through multiple sources, we have confirmed city attorneys offered:

- To let Roberts keep his job if he dropped his lawsuit or went to mediation. He would also be put on probation.

- To give Roberts $75,000 if he retired.

Roberts' attorneys declined both offers.

They will appeal the termination before a review board - a process that could take several months.

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