Rocked by sex scandals, the Mesa Police Department has changed its policy about releasing the results of its completed internal investigations. The new policy makes it even more difficult to determine what exactly is going on inside the sin-ridden East Valley department.
No, this particular instance doesn't directly concern the kinky-cop sex club headed by decorated Mesa patrolman Dick Elliget--now in prison for molesting one of his teenage daughters. But it is about sex.
The Mesa department is refusing to release the file of its investigation into allegations of sexual impropriety made against one of its police captains by a sergeant and a lieutenant. The separate allegations claimed the captain had engaged in on-duty homosexual and heterosexual encounters in public places such as bathrooms in parks and department stores.
The cases are even more remarkable because it's rare for command officers to formally accuse other command officers of wrongdoing. The department's own internal-affairs unit recently cleared the captain of any wrongdoing, according to Mesa city attorney Neal Beets. However, the report could shed light on the seemingly endless string of charges and countercharges within the department. Several Mesa officers complain that their work and morale have suffered because of the internal ruckus among their higher-ups.
Seven officers linked to the Elliget probe have been suspended or reassigned, but the department revealed only their names, not the charges against them. In the unrelated cases of the captain, New Times asked police spokesman Mike Hayes for a copy of the completed internal-investigation reports.
Hayes said he couldn't accommodate the request, explaining that police higher-ups had contacted city attorney Beets. Beets mulled over the request--and then said no.
In a written response dated July 27, Beets refused to turn over the results of the investigation into the captain's alleged behavior. He wrote in part:
"The charge made, homosexuality, is one which can have specific, important and harmful effects on a police officer, not to mention the officer's spouse and children."
The department hasn't always shown the same concern toward officers' children. In the Elliget case, a New Times investigation last year revealed, the department's top brass had been told years before the officer's arrest that he had been molesting his children and did nothing to stop him. Elliget wasn't stopped until his chief victim, his 16-year-old daughter, came forward last summer.
In the current cases involving the captain, neither the Mesa sergeant--R.O. Davis--nor the lieutenant--John Wagner--who filed the complaints against him would discuss the allegations. But sources familiar with the cases tell New Times that internal affairs investigators ordered several officers to disclose what they knew about alleged sexual improprieties involving other cops. That, according to the sources, led to the allegations against the police captain.
The Maricopa County Attorney's Office, which has investigated numerous allegations of the wrongdoing by Mesa police, wasn't in on this one. "We were informed about that investigation by Chief [Guy] Meeks," says Paul Ahler, head of the Major Felony Bureau at the County Attorney's Office, "but that was it. We got involved with a lot of things, but not that."
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R.O. Davis is one of seven Mesa cops facing disciplinary action by the department in connection with the Elliget scandal. The bulk of the allegations involve on-duty sexual escapades with Elliget's wife, Laurie.
Results of investigations into the Elliget scandal by Mesa police and the County Attorney's Office also have not been made public. Several Mesa cops have contacted New Times in recent weeks to ask for information about the investigations.
"Our morale generally stinks," says one officer, who requested anonymity. "We're kind of floundering around waiting to see if they do anything to the big boys who screwed up in this thing. What we'd really like is to have a normal police department."
TREES FALL, CHIPS FLY HOW MUCH WOOD DID ... v8-05-92