DPS Reign of Terror

It wasn't just one officer

What Barcello told his superiors at DPS is somewhat at odds with what he told Phoenix Police Detective Rick Hargus.

When confronted by Hargus, Barcello admits that he was aware that Van Jackson was calling Leon Woodward, but for the life of him, Barcello can't imagine what his pal was up to.

" . . . Really, the conversation was only in passing," Barcello told the Phoenix police, "and I really didn't want to hear about it or know about it."

This astounding explanation of Barcello's comes from a state police officer who admits that he, like Van Jackson, also keeps a file on Leon.

"I keep a history of Leon; he's a kook," said Barcello to Detective Hargus.

And yet Barcello doesn't know anything about the Van Jackson-Leon Woodward fracas. Until he's pushed a little by DPS. And then he still doesn't know anything. Except on the kidding-around level.

The DPS investigation conducted by the Internal Affairs Unit is rife with these sorts of contradictions.

Van Jackson would only admit to the Phoenix detective the making of one phone call.

With his own superiors at DPS, however, Jackson confesses to making numerous calls to the Woodward residence. But he denies ever making any death threats.

Jackson repeatedly denies that anyone else made calls to the Woodwards, then on two different occasions insists that others at DPS said they'd call Leon, too.

Jackson denies keeping the Woodwards under surveillance, then admits he was parked out front of their home when the Phoenix police were summoned.

In fact, the internal investigation conducted by DPS is filled with the sorts of denials followed by sheepish admissions that you'd expect to find when dealing with adolescents.

Except that these weren't delinquent teen-agers.
These were state police officers whose responsibilities were intelligence and security within Arizona's government. Their victim was a private citizen and his family.

And no one is getting to the bottom of this mess.
The DPS report spends almost as much time proving that Leon Woodward is an outspoken gadfly and pest as it does investigating rogue cops.

The "confidential" sixteen-page document's final words are: "People other than DPS officers assigned to the capital had similar opinions (negative) of Leon Woodward as reflected in the Neighborhood Improvement and Housing Department meeting minutes."

That is the conclusion.
As if being obnoxious somehow puts into perspective a masked coward with a badge and a gun ringing you up at two in the morning and threatening your life.

Since County Attorney Rick Romley has charged Van Jackson--and only Van Jackson--with two petty misdemeanors, is it any wonder that a second wave of threatening phone calls was launched against the Woodwards after this officer's resignation from

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