Thursday, February 17, 2011

Former Goodyear police officer could face felony charges

A former Goodyear police officer could face felony theft, forgery and fraud charges after accusations arose that he falsified several months of pay sheets, bilking the city out of more than $13,000, police said.

David Bryant is accused of falsifying 10 months' worth of pay sheets in 2010, said Goodyear police Cmdr. Ralph McLaughlin, a department spokesman. He allegedly reported 433 hours that he didn't work, totaling about $13,000.

He was put on administrative leave Jan. 10 and resigned Feb. 2, McLaughlin said.

The Goodyear Police Department submitted its criminal investigation to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office in January, McLaughlin said. It will launch an internal investigation after criminal court proceedings have begun.

The department also will submit Bryant's case to the Arizona Peace Officer's Standards and Training Board to review whether to revoke his certification to be a law-enforcement officer in the state, he said.

"It's a matter of public trust," McLaughlin said. "These are city funds that he's being paid with and they have to be used appropriately, and if he's not doing his job . . . then that's a problem."

Bryant, who was the street crimes sergeant, also is accused of telling the four police officers he supervised to falsely claim five hours on their time sheets during one week in November, McLaughlin said.

"These officers didn't feel comfortable with what he told them and they notified a lieutenant and the lieutenant took action," he said.

The Police Department opened an investigation and discovered the issues with Bryant's time sheets.

McLaughlin said the department is not investigating any of the officers in Bryant's unit.

"This is all on him," he said. "The officers acted appropriately. We did do a review of their time sheets, which were all accurate. This is just him and him alone and his time sheets."

Bryant joined the 130-officer department in 2001 and was promoted to sergeant in 2008.

He was awarded the Medal of Valor, the department's highest award, for his role in an officer-involved shooting in February 2008. Bryant was one of two officers who shot and killed a robbery suspect who shot a K-9 officer and his dog.

Last May, the department discovered former Detective Latroy Campbell mishandled several cases, including falsifying reports and closing cases with little or no investigation. Most were sex crimes. Campbell resigned in August.

The Police Department conducted an audit of its criminal investigations unit and launched a review of how caseloads are managed.

Police Chief Mark Brown said that Bryant's and Campbell's cases do not indicate a systematic problem within the department.

"We are held to the highest standards by our profession," Brown said in a statement released Wednesday. "These inquiries and resulting actions are examples of us holding ourselves accountable to the public we serve and people with whom we serve."

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