Self-Proclaimed Whistleblower Phil Roberts Wasn't Retaliated Against by the Phoenix Police Department, Feds Say
Phoenix police officials should have more closely examined allegations made by police Sergeant Phil Roberts about falsified border-related kidnapping statistics before deciding to investigate him for making those claims, according to a federal investigative report obtained by New Times.
That message, found in a 33-page report by the U.S. Office of Inspector General, was hardly a victory for the embattled police sergeant who claims he has endured repeated acts of retaliation at the hands of police officials for exposing the department's fake kidnapping statistics.
However, the OIG did not find that internal investigations or reassignments that Roberts faced in 2010 had anything to do with his claims against the police department.
Roberts, who calls himself a whistleblower, wanted the feds to say the reason he was pulled from the unit investigating kidnapping cases, placed under investigation for misconduct, assigned to desk duty, reassigned to jail duty and prohibited from working off-duty jobs was because he shed light on bloated stats.
But they didn't.
At the heart of this specific "whistleblower" matter is a 2009 federal $1.7 million grant that Phoenix police received to help combat the 300-plus kidnapping cases tied to human smuggling or drug running. It's those case where undocumented immigrants or people in the drug trade are taken hostage until family members or shady business associates fork over money or drugs.
As a way to protect tax dollars, these grants come with "whistleblower protection" clause for individuals who expose gross mismanagement, gross waste, or an abuse of authority when it comes to those specific dollars.
For reasons unrelated to his kidnapping stats allegations, things already were looking bad for the 25-year police veteran. Roberts had "a serious suspension and/or termination pending" against him, according to police command staff interviewed by federal investigators.
(What got Roberts twisted up were his nearly 50 memos packed with allegations of corruption and fraud against police officials, which internal city investigators kept finding were riddled with misleading and false statements.)
The feds note in their investigation that Roberts was given notice that he was under investigation and placed on desk duty on August 26, 2010. On October 7, 2010, he was reassigned to jail detail and was prohibited from working off-duty jobs.
Roberts says all of those actions taken against him were because he wrote an August 2010 memo packed with allegations about bad stats.
But the OIG report details that Roberts was given his notice of investigation in August 2010, not because of his kidnapping stats memo, but because he was out on "stress leave" from December 29, 2009 until August 23, 2010.
The city simply couldn't serve him the notice while he was out on leave so officials waited for him to come back.
When he got back on August 23, 2010, he was promptly given his notice and scheduled for an interview on August 31, 2010 by Professional Standards Bureau investigators. Before that interview could take place, Roberts again went out on "stress leave" from August 30, 2010 through October 4, 2010.
If Roberts had not gone out on his well-timed "stress leave," the city would have given him notice that he was under investigation before he wrote his bad stats memo and the Phoenix Police Department would have been spared this federal investigation of retaliation against one of their own.
While this kidnapping stats saga is like a impossibly tangled ball of yarn, the federal investigation -- which Roberts asked for -- gives an outsider's view of his allegations.