Mark Spencer's Spin Machine, and KPHO's Flubbed Segment on Police Supes

picresized_1298355647_firehim.jpg
KPHO
The "him" in "Fire him" is Mark Spencer, not Jack Harris...

I have praised Channel 5/KPHO's reporters and producers in the past. I consider them colleagues. Not necessarily drinking-buddies. (Yet.) But I have fun chatting with them when I see them in the midst of the media scrum.

Still, I wonder about the station's pro-PLEA spin, PLEA being the powerful Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, a police union that represents the rank and file of the Phoenix Police Department.

PLEA is at constant war with PPD management, particularly Public Safety Manager (read, "Police Chief") Jack Harris. This is obvious from PLEA's Web site and from PLEA President Mark Spencer's obsession with taking Harris down. That PLEA has allies at KPHO is evidenced by KPHO's occasional aping of PLEA's line on the PPD.

Without casting aspersions on the reportage of Channel 5 journalist Donna Rossi, a former cop herself and currently a pavement-pounding Fourth Estate-r, I found odd her recent segment on a survey taken by the Phoenix Police Sergeants and Lieutenants Association, the union representing Phoenix cops of the ranks mentioned. 

At least, I did after I read the "report" itself, which is linked at the Web sites for KPHO and PLEA.

PLEA put its usual anti-management slant on the document, calling it a "no confidence" vote for PPD satraps. And, truthfully, there's much in the doc, particularly in the written responses, that indicates the relationship between sergeants and lieutenants and the command staff ain't what it should be.

"What in your opinion is the single biggest challenge facing the Phoenix Police Department?" asks the survey at one point.

Answers run the gamut from, "We need a new Fourth Floor," and "morale" to "a lack of leadership" and "corruption within the department."

One commenter opines, "No one has faith in the chief."

Rossi repeated some of these negative comments, along with the news that around 70 percent of the 150-so respondents were satisfied or very satisfied as employees of the department. Around 87 percent of respondents (by my count) agreed that the department was committed to providing quality service.

However, Rossi ignored negative reactions regarding PLEA and Mark Spencer. For instance, one survey-taker listed "Mark Spencer" as the PPD's "single biggest challenge."

That same respondent, when asked what he or she would like to see done to address this "challenge," said in regard to Spencer, "Fire him."

Weirdly, Rossi reported that the "Fire him" comment was about Harris, not Spencer.

Perhaps some confusion can be forgiven. PPSLA President Mark Hafkey told me that the information posted at KPHO and PLEA came from a "data dump" and was not a finished report. He also informed me that the information was taken from PPSLA offices without permission and was later posted to PLEA's Web site. 

Plus, he confirmed what appears obvious from the raw data: The "Fire him" comment refers to Spencer.

Rossi said her sources told her the PPSLA was trying to keep the report "under wraps." Hafkey denied this, telling me that the final report will be issued after a labor-management conference between PPD management and PPSLA.

In an e-mail to PPSLA members sent January 27, one quoted in part by Rossi, Hafkey admits that the survey indicated "significant dissatisfaction." Due to the preliminary results, Hafkey told his members of the planned labor-management conference to hash out concerns. He promised more info would be distributed following the conference. 

Hardly evidence of a cover-up. 

Currently, according to Hafkey, the powwow's scheduled to occur on two dates, February 25 and March 10. 

In her piece, Rossi says she contacted PPSLA, but received no response. Hafkey told me he'd gotten a phone call and an e-mail seeking comment the day of Rossi's story, but he was tied up in a federally-mandated disaster-response training course. By the time he was ready to react, the piece had run.

Hafkey said PPSLA would seek a retraction from KPHO.

Also, he stated the union is considering what other actions it might take regarding the document believed stolen from PPSLA offices. 

I called and e-mailed Rossi regarding the matter, but have yet to hear back from her.

If Rossi and KPHO do a retraction, particularly on the "Fire him" quote, that would be good journalism. They may also want to point out that the document they reference specifically asks "dissatisfied" respondents the reasons for their opinions. 

In other words, PPSLA was actively seeking critical assessments of the department, even from the minority.

Will KPHO will do a story on the many derisive comments PLEA and Spencer received in the survey -- a survey the station made such a huge deal about?

To the "single biggest challenge" question, one respondent states, "PLEA's negative attacks." Another cites, "The constant attacks of PLEA on the PPD supervisors." Yet another notes, "the negative spin some [of] the unions are putting on these issues to enumerate the deficiencies of/with Jack Harris."

Replying to a different survey question, one person says he or she'd like to see both the PLEA President and Harris retire. Others echo the call for a simultaneous changing of the guard in PPD and PLEA.

"Management needs to stop caving into PLEA demands," writes another.

Do "not let PLEA run this department," adds one more.

Of course, the respondents are not members of PLEA, but considering that PLEA experienced an eight percent drop in membership last year, PLEA muck-a-mucks should be the last ones squealing about expressions of "no confidence." 

I do have to compliment PLEA for getting its spin in the local media on a regular basis. PLEA's Web site is full of such twisted interpretations.

Recently, PLEA posted a video of Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery telling reporters that, "We have no evidence to pursue criminal charges against officials of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association for witness tampering or witness intimidation. So at this point in time, I consider the investigation closed in that regard." 

This was in connection to the shooting of an unarmed South Phoenix resident by Phoenix Police Officer Richard Chrisman. The investigation of PLEA began under the watch of Montgomery's predecessor, interim County Attorney Rick Romley.

PLEA titled its blog post, "MCAO Exonerates PLEA." As you can see, Montgomery didn't exactly use the word, "exonerate." 

My congrats to PLEA's pooh-bahs for successfully dodging the allegations. But don't delude yourselves, fellas. Patrol cops, lieutenants, sergeants, and savvy members of the public are on to your shenanigans. No matter what KPHO reports.

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22 comments
GRGnAZ
GRGnAZ

To bad our society insist all Pigs are good pigs oops cops, anyhow they are a legitimate criminal organization and have always been why do you think good cops are killed.

What great neighbors I have the blind following uniforms because they like bacon.

That PLEA bastard showed his colors he is a dirty fat man leading a Union of mostly good police officers, funny how conservatives hate unions until they are firemen or police. It is not funny to me the Union organization is still a racketeering job. To bad you bliind yourself to it IDIOT.

XSoldier
XSoldier

Harris is a known double-dipper, just like his good buddy over at MCSO, Hendy.

Makes me glad I live somewhere in Mesa, where we have a relatively decent police force. Our officers actually have faith in our police chief and their union president doesn't have the mentality of Senate President Russell Pearce, who is a danger to himself and the State of Arizona.

Spencer and Harris should be fired and hang their heads in shame. What a waste of my tax dollars.

Jack Swift
Jack Swift

Lameduck is a douchebag/Mark Spencer or his mom. Get where I'm going with this, cop fucktard?

Truthhurts
Truthhurts

Awh bad reporting on KPHO's behalf???? Perhaps you need to look in the mirror Mr. Lemons - Lets take a look at the "fire him" comment that you and Mark Hafkey somehow attribute to Mark Spencer:

#1 Take all facts into consideration before action, change in some leadership position.#2 Fire Him#3 We need a chief from outside the Department with no alliances to anyone who can clean house, establish direction for the department, and provide leadership in (comment not completed)

These are the comments both before and after the fire him comment. I failed to see the name Mark Spencer or PLEA mentioned. In fact the first mention about PLEA or Spencer is Number 19 (in numerical sequence). So how do you and Mark Hafkey get that the "fire him" comment is about Spencer???? The entire section is rife with comments like the following:

- Our department needs a new direction and our upper management is not it (#7)- Clean house. Accountability of executive management (#8)- New leadership (#23)

These are just a few of the negative samplings against the executive command staff of PPD and Jack Harris. Although Rossi failed to list comments negative to PLEA, you failed to list comments negative to PPSLA. Case in point; Answer #22

- We have voiced this concern for years. PPSLA does little to address the problem. You are a joke as well.

As one who actually participated in the survey (yes I am a PPD Sergeant) I would like to state that yes there are differences and issues we have with PLEA and Mark Spencer (minimizing officer misconduct in particular) but don't be mislead by a PPSLA President attached to the hip of upper management. Myself and many, many, many of my colleges know what the "main" problem is with the PPD. Jack Harris, his "yes man" command staff and a City Manager's Office that protects them all because they act like deer caught in the head lights.

Think I'm wrong???? Then anyone here reading this should read the entire survey and make your own decision. The lieutenants and sergeants in this organization already know what the problem is here and how to fix it. The real question is "does anyone in city government have the testicular fortitude to do the right thing???"

Tommy Collins
Tommy Collins

Interesting article, Mr. Lemons. I'm disappointed in what you're saying that KPHO has reported. I have started watching KPHO regularly since they normally tend to get more, and accurate, information and they tend to report both sides of a story, "telling it like it is". It seems they may have failed in this report.

Mark Spencer impresses me as one of those, "little guys who couldn't". He makes me think of some of the officers I worked with who were what I called the "eight hour cops working a ten hour shift". It seemed to always take them at least an hour to "hit the streets" (go on patrol) and they always seemed to find a way to get into the police station an hour or so before end of shift, leaving everyone else to take care of business and handle any hot calls or overtime calls. Of course this is purely conjecture on my part, but he just seems like he might be that kind of guy.

Mr. Spencer impresses me as the kind of cop who isn't energized to test for promotion and is constantly critical of supervision and management, but not willing to put forth any effort to become part of supervision and/or management to help correct problems. It seems he is content to be a very large part of the problem, without offering or working on any solution.

PLEA is the vessel to carry Mr. Spencer forth to show his face in his 'fifteen seconds of fame', or in this case perhaps more accurately his 'fifteen seconds of shame'.

I will be interested to see if Ms. Rossi corrects her errors. I won't be holding my breath, however.

jeff
jeff

Spencer and Harris and both their inner circles should all go so that the next group of bad managers can get into those offices.

Lameduck
Lameduck

KPHO is a legitamate news organization, New Times is not. Lemons is a douchebag, Donna Rossi and Mark Spencer are not. Get where Im going with this, tampon-chewer?

Rock On PLEA> Fuck Harris and his cronnies.

Tommy Collins
Tommy Collins

I don't care for the facade of Harris being Public Safety Manager so he can remain as Chief, XS. However, you may recall it was all engineered by Phil Gordon and Frank Fairbanks to keep Harris aboard. Had they not engineered it, and the Council approved it, Harris could not be doing the same job for substantially more pay (retirement included). Hendershott left as a peace officer on Friday and returned as a civilian to the same desk and job (same title too, I believe) the following Monday. Again, for substantially more money for doing the same job. Like you, in both cases I think it's wrong. However I don't think Harris should be fired. I think he should have the class to resign. Hendershott should simply be terminated for being himself. No further justification needed.

GRGnAz..... you seem to have been ingesting something harmful...

StephenLemons
StephenLemons

You're misreading the comments.

Take a look here:

http://www.azplea.com/images/s...

Page down to the response section toward the bottom.

First question: "What, in your opinion, is the single biggest challenge facing the Phoenix Police Department?"

Second response: "Mark Spencer"

Page down to the next question, "What would you like to see done to address this challenge?"

Second respondent: "Fire him."

If anyone doubts that there are many references to PLEA in the written responses, read it for yourself. PLEA is mentioned several times.

Earthdayaz
Earthdayaz

KPHO sucks. They're also reporting that the Federal GOverment "approved" the dropping of poor single people from AHCCCS in response to Brewers's Waiver request - THE FEDS DID NO SUCH THING. Sebelias simply pointed out that the State of Arizona's requirement to cover those people expires soon. The Fed didn't approve the State's request for a waiver, yet KPHO and practically every other news source (except New Times) is reporting it as such.

They LIE!

In addition, i've had personal experience with KPHO's reporting - a story about a local musician. KPHO's reporter got practically EVERY fact wrong. It was a puff piece that would make the publishers of The National Enquirer proud.

Tommy Collins
Tommy Collins

Jeff, I'm curious what YOU are doing to make management any better. Anything? Or are you just content to post anonymously about how bad things are?

Tommy Collins
Tommy Collins

Lameduck, you're not helping your image with this type of posting. But, I guess gutter talk is your way of dealing with folks, eh?

Truthhurts
Truthhurts

Nice try....one person...let me repeat that...one person says "Mark Spencer" is the biggest problem to the PPD and if you read the numerical sequence apparently the same person says "fire him." Why don't you add up how many negative remarks there are about Harris, the executive command staff or upper management and compare those to how many negative remarks there are to Mark Spencer and/or PLEA. Can you say "lopsided."

And while we're on the subject of "yellow journalism" isn't it true Mr. Lemons that you have been trying to write negative stories about Mark Spencer for months because you personally don't like him? Not true say you??? Then explain how a certain property crimes lieutenant (we both know who we're talking about) got a phone call from you asking if he had bad info on Spencer and that this lieutenant used to be a former supervisor of his? This lieutenant was so pissed he asked you where you got his phone number from and you said....are you ready boys and girls..."Mark Hafkey."

USAdefender1
USAdefender1

Tommy Boy!

What are you doing Tommy Boy? I see you on here trying to shut people up but can't seem to shut your own trap! If the Jeff wants to vent he should not be giving grief by an ex Colorado "blue haired" Lieutenant Meter Maid!

USAdefender1

P.S. Did you like the "Blue haired" comment? Got that from you disrespectful progressive MORONS!

BookemDanno
BookemDanno

@Tommy - I for one did do something. I participated in the survey expressing my concern how screwed up the leadership was in PPD. And what did it get me???? Everyone (Sergeants and Lieutenants) in PPD already know that Mark Hafkey (PPSLA) "gave" the survey FIRST to Jack Harris on Feb. 7th and not to its own membership. Several of us are already contemplating researching potential PPSLA bi-law violations to get Hafkey out. So before you start asking "Jeff" what he's doing (is Jeff a cop???) what are you doing Tommy (are you a cop???).

StephenLemons
StephenLemons

Well, at least you admit you were wrong about the "fire him" comment. Not sure about the property crimes lieutenant thing. I talk to a lot of cops, and a lot of them don't like Spencer. And I mean, A LOT of them.

Tommy Collins
Tommy Collins

@BookemDanno. No, I am not a cop any longer. I have retired from twenty years of law enforcement from a metro agency in Colorado, rank of Lieutenant. I believe Jeff may be a cop, but don't know that as being factual. I prompt those who are still in law enforcement to actually do something more than pissing and moaning in person or in blogs. Too many are simply satisfied to gripe about what they think might be wrong, but are never willing to put forth effort to make changes, needed or not. Also, too many, the ilk of Spencer, are always willing to criticize supervision and management but don't have the energy to actually become part of supervision and/or management to effect change(s). Now, my question to you: Why is leadership screwed up and what do YOU want to do to change it (other than answering a survey)? Are you willing to go directly to your division chief or to Jack Harris (I refuse to refer to him as Chief) and state your case and see what can be done to correct deficiencies in 'leadership'? I'm not being glib. I would appreciate your thoughtful answer.

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