Monday, November 21, 2011

Goodyear police spokesman put on paid administrative leave

The Goodyear Police Department's spokesman has been placed on paid administrative leave.

Interim Police Chief Bill Cusson confirmed Friday that John Rowan, a civilian employee who also is the assistant to the police chief, was placed on administrative leave Wednesday as the "result of an internal investigation."

Cusson would not say what allegations are being investigated. He said whether Rowan returns to work or is terminated "would depend on the outcome of the investigation at this point."

Rowan declined comment, citing city policy.

The move is the latest development in the inner turmoil that has plagued the Goodyear Police Department this year.

Rowan was reassigned last November and in January told city leaders he felt the move was retaliatory for sworn testimony in a federal lawsuit he gave the day before he was reassigned.

The lawsuit is related to the hit-and-run death of 18-year-old Jered Pendleton April 6, 2008, that involved a Goodyear officer. In his testimony, Rowan recounted a possibly incriminating conversation in Police Chief Mark Brown's office the day after the hit-and-run.

City Manager John Fischbach said at the time the reassignment was not retaliatory and was meant to preserve the integrity of an investigation spurred from Rowan's testimony. Rowan was moved back to his post in April after the investigation was completed.

That investigation turned out to be an independent inquiry into the department's handling of the Pendleton case, which concluded the department mishandled the investigation and officers protected one of their own.

Brown retired abruptly March 30 after the investigation was released, and Cmdr. Ralph McLaughlin, the department's second in command, resigned July 18 amid additional investigations into mismanagement and misconduct allegations.

A department-wide management audit released in August found several issues, including inadequate ethics and professional-conduct training, poor internal communication, and little accountability for professional standards.

Auditors made 31 recommendations, many of which Cusson already had addressed since taking over the department in April.

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