KPHO Cops the PLEA Line on a Report Swiped From Another Police Union, Flubbing the Story in the Process

MARK SPINNER

I have praised Channel 5 KPHO's reporters and producers in the past. I consider them colleagues.

In fact, in 2010, New Times went so far as to award KPHO newshound Morgan Loew and producer Gilbert Zermeno "Best TV Journalists" for their hard-hitting pieces on Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Still, I'm befuddled by the station's persistent pro-PLEA spin (PLEA being the powerful Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, a police union that represents the rank-and-file in 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 down Harris. That PLEA has allies at KPHO is evidenced by KPHO's occasional aping of PLEA's line on the PPD.

Without casting too many aspersions on the work of Channel 5 journalist Donna Rossi, a former cop and currently a Fourth Estater, I found her recent segment on a satisfaction survey taken by the Phoenix Police Sergeants and Lieutenants Association, the union representing Phoenix cops of those ranks, to be bizarre.

At least, I did after I read the report itself, which's 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 honchos. And, truthfully, there's much in the doc, particularly in the written responses, that suggests that 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" (the Fourth Floor being where the PPD command staff rule) to "morale" to "a lack of leadership" to "corruption within the department."

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

Rossi repeated some of the negative comments, along with news that nearly 70 percent of the more than 150 respondents were satisfied or very satisfied as employees of the department. Almost 87 percent of respondents agreed that the department was committed to providing quality service.

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

This 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. Mark Hafkey, president of the Sergeants and Lieutenants Association, told me that the information posted at KPHO and PLEA came from a "data dump" based on replies from his association's members and was not a finished report. He also related that the information was taken from his association's offices without permission and later posted to PLEA's Web site.

Plus, he confirmed what appears obvious, based on the raw data: The "fire him" comment refers to Spencer.

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

In an e-mail to PPSLA members sent January 27, one quoted in part by Rossi, Hafkey admits that the survey suggested "significant dissatisfaction." Because of 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 on two dates, February 25 and March 10.

In her piece, Rossi says she contacted the PPSLA but received no response. Hafkey told me he had gotten a phone call and an e-mail seeking comment the day of Rossi's story but 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 the PPSLA will seek a retraction from KPHO.

Also, he said the union is looking into what other action might be taken regarding the document believed stolen from PPSLA offices.

I called and e-mailed Rossi regarding the matter but didn't hear back from her for hours. So I published a version of this article on my Feathered Bastard blog, where I noted that Rossi had not called or e-mailed back.

The next day, she reached out to me via Facebook, claiming not to have received my e-mail or my phone mail, though I have proof of both communications.

She didn't reply to my inquiries concerning her segment on the PPSLA story.

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, the PPSLA was actively seeking critical assessments of the department.

Will KPHO do a story on the many derisive comments PLEA and Spencer received in the survey — which the station made 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."

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38 comments
Cajungman
Cajungman

I d STILL LIKE TO KNOW WHO KILL THE POLICE OFFICER DOWN TOWN?

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Hankchinaskijr
Hankchinaskijr

Spencer is a Russell Pearce lackey. He traded support for SB1070 for a bill that insulates police from public scrutiny.

Esbtans
Esbtans

Single biggest challenge? Spencer is really disliked.

Hock
Hock

Regardless, it's clear that Spencer is not good for the membership.

EthicalDeterioration
EthicalDeterioration

PLEA and Spencer lost the respect of many beginning several years ago, before Spencer was elected in part because the union now vigorously defends even those officers whom they know are guilty in disciplinary matters. The reason they have to defend the guilty is not necessarily because they want to, but because they have to. If they do not defend the guilty then they, the union, will be sued for not upholding their agreement with members. Sadly, and despite all the good benefits that unions earn for their membership, the sorry state of affairs in the US is that unions must defend screw-ups and f-ups... as the country swirls down the drain.

Truthhurts
Truthhurts

Walter makes a lot of sense....unlike the author of this article.

Walter Concrete
Walter Concrete

Exactly. One comment does make make a survey and by quoting it as something more than just one negative comment stinks of propaganda supportive of the status quo. This kind of so called journalism is typical of today. Because what else is journalism today but supportive of those in power. There's no desire to get to the truth because the truth is whatever the PTB says it is and if you want to work in journalism you'll do what you're told or you won't work. Right, Steve? It's part of the continuing process of this world's demise. The New Times are the bad times and bad journalism is false reporting and slanted news. They don't even have any shame.

Guest
Guest

The bigoted PLEA Prez., gets favoritism..? Gee what a surprise? He did so for years on hate-jock Ankarlo's show over and over.?

His own 'rank and file' call him Looney Toons..?

The bigoted Prez, even said that ...'The Mexican Army has invaded Phoenix.."

How this slipped by Rossi and KPHO, is simply amazing.?

He will get his, as now FOP is taking all the membership from the bigoted Union Prez..

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???"

Yourproductsucks
Yourproductsucks

Both Harris and Spencer need to go. It's time Spencer got out and pushed a patrol car around for a while and come back down to reality. Harris is a puppet for our lame duck mayor and we'd do better without him as well.

Truthhurts
Truthhurts

Yep your right Esbtans...one whole person said that out of about 100 responses. Not 1/2 or 3/4's of a person but one whole entire person. Thank you Esbtans for recognizing this for us....

Cajungman
Cajungman

wouldnt supprice me if he was the one who kill the police officer down town

StephenLemons
StephenLemons

"the truth is whatever the PTB says it is" Huh? Do you really think my bosses give a flip about PLEA or the PPD? If so, the concrete's in your brain.

The survey was really about the 4th floor, management, chain of command. No one asked anyone about PLEA or Spencer, yet they're mentioned numerous times. Read the piece, dip.

Other negative comments about Spencer are quoted in the piece above, and I acknowledge, and quote, negative stuff about the PPD command staff.

StupidisasStupiddoes
StupidisasStupiddoes

Thanks JR Poole for chiming in. By the way, don't drink too many beers at the FOP Lodge playing Bingo or watching WWF on that magnificent 60 " Flat Screen talking about the good ol days when you used to work for a living...

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."

Truthhurts
Truthhurts

Your bosses also apparently don't give a flip about good journalism either :)

Guest
Guest

Calling your readers "dip?" tisk tisk Steve, your obviously losing your cool because you know your screwed up. You wrote a negative hit piece because your friend Mark Hafkey was made to look like a duffus. Numerous negative comments about Mark Spencer and PLEA? I think not, not in the survey I read. Were there negative comments about Spencer/PLEA? Sure. Numerous - no. Not even close. The real story here is Jack Harris and the screwed up mismanagement of the Phoenix Police Department. But you elected to write a hit piece on PLEA and ignore the real problem. By the way...Mark Hafkey says the survey was "stolen" from the PPSLA Offices???? I beg to differ...ask your buddy Hafkey if PPSLA gave a copy to the 4th floor prior to the leak (for those who aren't PPD Cops, that where the ex-command staff works).

The answer is "yes." The leak source was from someone in senior management. Everyone, and I mean everyone is fed up with the corruption inside PPD. Rumor is that DOJ is sniffing around...We can only pray that rumor is true.

Tommy Collins
Tommy Collins

Truthhurts, for someone who is so willing to name someone else you sure continue to hide behind anonymity. You don't have the balls to post under your real name, huh? Some cop you are....

Guest
Guest

One can never drink TOO many beers!

StephenLemons
StephenLemons

First you say the comment's not about Spencer, then you agree it is. Congrats on recognizing how right I am!

Not sure about the property crimes lieutenant. Forgive me, I talk to a lot of cops. And A LOT of them hate Mark Spencer.

ExpertShot
ExpertShot

Hey TruthHurts, you just don't know how to announymously insult people properly is all, it's not really getting under Stephen's skin. You must be a cop because you're insults are just not very imaginative. Here's an example of a truly awesome insult that may or may not be "activating":

Stephen, could you put your picture in your profile. I'd like to see your current image as all I have is these old pictures of you and your aunt In flagrante delicto in the back seat of that old Buick you used to have.

StephenLemons
StephenLemons

Cute. 'Cept for the fact that you were the same guy who claimed the "fire him" passage was about Harris. Yeah, your credibility rocks, dude. Of course, why worry about credibility when you're some hater posting anonymously?

StephenLemons
StephenLemons

Numerous, several, many. Pick the adjective you prefer, senor. I counted seventeen references to PLEA and/or Spencer in the written replies. Sometimes the references are to PLEA "leadership" or the PLEA "President." Any way you slice it, it's a a lot for a survey that's supposed to be all about the relationship to management, communication, etc.

That's an interesting suggestion regarding a leak. Could be possible. I suppose PLEA has its tentacles everywhere cop-related. Even the fourth floor.

StephenLemons
StephenLemons

"Stephen its no secret that the only reason you did this story was because Mark Hafkey asked you to and you owe him a favor on his opposition to SB 1070."

You got me, Truthhurts. Actually, Mark Hafkey doesn't exist. Rather, he's a 3-D projection I created to mess with Mark Spencer's mind. I wrote the survey myself to undermine PLEA's already crumbling credibility. And I'm currently involved in an international conspiracy, which has as its single goal defeating Spencer's anticipated bid to run for the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors.

Now that my devious plan has been exposed by your diligent detective work, I plan to move to Baja Arizona and work on the reconquista. Damn your hairy hide, Truthhurts!

Truthhurts
Truthhurts

Ok, let me see if I get this right...you want me to identify myself on this blog to expose myself to the retaliatory efforts of the Phoenix Police Department for saying they are screwed up but at the same time you say; "Bruno, for professional reasons, I don't confirm or deny the specifics of the persons I chat with, unless I'm quoting them for a story."

Hmmm double standard????

Then you post - "Defensive? I just don't suffer cranks gladly. Much less their misinformation."

Misinformation you say???? Ok, lets pretend we're in grammar school so you'll understand this:

1) Did you or did you not FAIL to post the negative comment about PPSLA?2) Have you EVER talked to a Phoenix Police Property Crimes Lieutenant in the past two months about his prior supervision of Mark Spencer looking for dirt on Mark (please don;t say you can't remember, thats a cop out...pardon the pun on words)?3) Has Mark Hafkey (the president of the opposing union - PPSLA)_ever given you dirt and or telephone numbers of other supervisors?4) Isn't it true that both you and Mark Hafkey are vehemently opposed to SB 1070 and Spencer and PLEA are for it????5) Isn't it true that a vast majority (like over 2/3' rds if not 70%) of the comments are anti PPD management and Jack Harris yet you chose to right about the minority of the comments on Spencer and PLEA?6) Did you ask Hafkey if he "gave" a copy of the survey to a single member of the Executive Command Staff BEFORE IT WAS LEAKED now says that it was "stolen" from their offices???? Yea...right.......7) If 2/3 'rds or upwards of 70% of the surveyed union believe there is serious problems with PPD upper management, isn't that a vote of no confidence? If not what would you call it Mr. Lemons, a misunderstanding? Even Hafkey calls it a "significant" belief in poor leadership within PPD.

Stephen its no secret that the only reason you did this story was because Mark Hafkey asked you to and you owe him a favor on his opposition to SB 1070. Think I'm wrong??? Then simply read the PPSLA E-Flash that was e-mailed out to the PPSLA membership attacking both PLEA and KPHO just days before your hit peace came out attacking how???.....PLEA and KPHO.

Coincidence...I think not. Yellow Journalism defined :)

StephenLemons
StephenLemons

Bruno, for professional reasons, I don't confirm or deny the specifics of the persons I chat with, unless I'm quoting them for a story.

The day's not over, and I've spoken with at least ten people, from several walks of life.

If you think that I'm going to start confirming or denying details on everyone I talk to, particularly for the sake of anonymous posters, then you must be smokin' the good ganja, bro.

Defensive? I just don't suffer cranks gladly. Much less their misinformation.

Also, I'm neither pro nor anti-cop. If you read me on a regular basis, you'd know that.

Bruno
Bruno

You sound awfully defensive, Mr. Lemons. Also, when you don't directly respond to the accusation that you made that call to the "property crimes lieutenant," it raises my suspicion that you are... well, lying.

"Not sure about the property crimes lieutenant"

"I think my point was..."

But no worry. There are enough New Times readers who are anti law enforcement and don't care how slanted your work is. Don't think that you have any moral superiority over KPHO.

StephenLemons
StephenLemons

I think my point was that I talk to a lot of cops. As far as I know, I may have spoken with you. I talk to cops, politicians, activists, you name it. That's what I do for a living, bub. Which means, I don't have to hide behind a pseudonym and make creepy, childish comments. BTW, are you doing this on-duty? Shouldn't you be out, like, earning your pension, or something?

Truthhurts
Truthhurts

Thats true...a lot do hate him, you can tell by the handful of negative comments about him in the almost 100 narratives collected by PPSLA in the survey. As far as not recalling the lieutenant you spoke to (just two months ago!!!) trying to find dirt on Spencer. We call that "convenient memory loss" in police lingo. It occurs all the time with the Executive Command Staff of the PPD when they're deposed in the numerous lawsuits launched against the PPD by their own officers. Its ok Stephen, we're used to those type of responses when people don't want to speak the truth and have "convenient memory loss."

 
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