A pair of reports by a Valley television station have brought to light several investigations of police officer conduct at the Globe Police Department, and the recent resignation of former Chief Mark Nipp has increased turnover at the 19-officer department.
The department recently placed officers Abraham Castaneda and Gabriel Guerrero on administrative leave while an internal investigation is completed.
City officials would not comment on the investigations but said efforts to stabilize the department are underway.
Acting Chief Robert Folker, who was hired by Nipp last August and ultimately took over when the former chief resigned on March 8, cited Arizona statute 38, section 1101, which addresses officers’ rights during an investigation. The statute gives the officer a right to privacy and to appeal a decision that may lead to termination.
“It’s an ongoing investigation and we can’t comment,” Folker said. “Some of [the turnover] has come due to the release of an officer before the completion of their probationary period.”
Folker retired from Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, has a bachelors degree in public administration and a master’s degree in leadership, and although he did not come to Globe with the thought of being chief, he said he is working to create stability within the department.
“There has been a lot of turnover, so it is important to build on continuity,” he said.
Discussions about the investigations have happened in “executive sessions,” or closed meetings.
Folker said that the department found some criminal cases were not being investigated, so the city performed an internal audit.
Globe City Manager Paul Jepson declined to comment on the investigations because they are ongoing, but he said the city is “taking the time to do it right.”
“There are investigations into cold cases that were not wrapped up,” Jepson said.
He added that there is an external investigation into a former officer going on as well, but was unable to comment due to the sensitive nature of the case.
“People see that change has to happen and when they want help, they expect the police to show up,” he said. “We can understand the frustration, but we have to have evidence: professionalism will gain trust.”
Jepson added that the police department is facing growing challenges but sees public safety as a core function of government. Both Jepson and Folker hope residents of Globe see that progress is being made toward stabilizing the police department.
“I would hope all the work done in the past two years to professionalize the Globe Police Department” are seen in the community, and “people are more trusting.”
The external investigation first reported by ABC15 news named former Sgt. James Durnan, but neither Jepson nor Folker would confirm.