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Complaint Against Mesa Assistant Police Chief Looks Like Retaliation

A cop who filed a complaint against Mesa Police Assistant Chief Mike Denney (pictured) last year apparently has a grudge to bear.

Still, it's hard to tell how deep the bad blood runs between Denney, named as a possible successor to departing George Gascon, and police Commander Fred Ruhland.

When we re-reported this news after it was first revealed by heatcity.org, we wondered why Ruhland had taken five months to gripe to superiors that Denney had him in the groin with a water bottle. Ruhland hadn't been injured, and Denney says if the incident happened at all, it was just horseplay. 

As the Arizona Republic reports this afternoon, Ruhland made his complaint a week after going on paid leave for two alleged policy violations: 

The first violation allegedly occured in the spring of 2007, for failing to "'identify and/or recognize police violations or potential policy violations' while serving as chairman of the department's Pursuit Review Board," Republic reporter Nathan Gonzalez writes.

Get this, though -- the complaint spurred by the alleged violation was written up by Denney in June of 2008, 14 months after it supposedly occurred. Is this evidence of some kind of feud between Denney and Ruhland, or simply that Denney found out about the alleged violation last year? Either way, Denney made another allegation against Ruhland in September of 2008 -- the police department hasn't yet provided details.

Ruhland began paid leave on September 12, continuing to draw his salary of $10,339 a month, the Republic article says. Then came two more complaints, the last being the most serious:

"Cmdr. Ruhland asked a communications supervisor to run an (Arizona Criminal Justice Information System) inquiry on Cmdr. Ruhland's personal vehicle," the complaint logged by Denney states.

The last complaint carries the potential for criminal charges that could mean jail time, if convicted, and an end Ruhland's career, which he began as a police officer in Glendale in 1978.

That sounds a heck of a lot worse than Denney's alleged "horseplay."

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.