Quartzsite,AZ: Asst. Manager suspends police

The madness continues

The latest news out of the embattled Arizona town of Quartzsite is that assistant town manager Al Johnson announced yesterday that he had suspended nine members of the 14-member police department.

A letter sent to the officers instructs: “You are required to remain at your place of residence between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and noon and between the hours of 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Failure to be present at your residence during those hours without express written approval from the investigator, Assistant Town Manager Al Johnson, shall be considered dereliction of duty and may result in additional disciplinary action, including dismissal.”

The letter also says it constitutes a direct order not to discuss the matter with anyone outside the investigation.

Johnson charges the officers continued to make allegations against Chief of Police Jeff Gilbert “even though the officers who made them knew the allegations were false when they were made in May.”

At that time, a vote of “no confidence” was made against the chief by 10 of the town’s 14 sworn officers. Among the numerous allegations, the officers stated that Gilbert engaged in “bully tactics” to intimidate members of the community “if they disagree with his methodology and political affiliation.” He is also accused of harassment and favoritism, improperly using a national crime data base as well as misusing personal and vacation time.

This is the explicit letter written to Mayor Ed Foster, members of the town council and the town’s citizens by members of the Quartzsite Police Officers Association in which they urge an immediate investigation of Police Chief Jeff Gilbert. We urge you to read it.

As a response, Johnson said he would continue to investigate whether officers were making false allegations against Gilbert, “and it’s possible more people will be suspended.” Johnson declared the Phoenix law firm Jackson Lewis  he hired found no evidence of wrong doing by chief Gilbert.

This is the press release put out by Jeff Gilbert yesterday:

“The Town of Quartzsite has placed select police officers on paid administrative leave while an internal investigation is being conducted into policy and rule violations. We can assure the community that the police department has adequate officers to provide the services necessary for public safety, and response to calls for service.”

Jeff Gilbert
Chief of Police

Quartzsite’s community newspaper, The Desert Messenger carries the “Legal Analysis and Recommendations” from Jackson Lewis attorney Sonya K. Boun.

Seeing Red AZ has been attempting to shine some light on the ongoing saga, which first caught national and international attention when a citizen who was formally recognized to speak by Mayor Ed Foster, was handcuffed and arrested by the town police.

19 Responses to Quartzsite,AZ: Asst. Manager suspends police

  1. Steve Calabrese says:

    It’s rare that I rely on union media or take their sides in an issue, but here’s a copy of my AZ Central post showing that the law firm in question exists solely to justify the actions of employers and can not be considered to conduct a fair investigation (they NEVER represent rank & file workers):

    CLEAR EVIDENCE that the law firm hired by Quartzsite to “investigate” the police chief (and justify suspending the complaining officers) is NOT fulfilling the role of an unbiased third party mediator but rather is a legal hired gun to defend employers – see below:



    http://www.jdjournal.com/2009/​03/30/jackson-lewis-berens-tat​e-merger/ – “Founded in 1958, Jackson Lewis is dedicated to representing management exclusively in workplace law.”

    http://www.inthesetimes.com/ar​ticle/3326/unionbusting_confid​ential/ – Jackson Lewis giving seminars on legal ways to fight workers. (Oriented towards a union-favorable audiance)

    http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2008/​08/19/for-employment-law-pfize​r-turns-to-one-firm-jackson-le​wis/ – Jackson Lewis represents Pfizer.

    http://query.nytimes.com/gst/h​ealth/article-printpage.html?r​es=9E01EEDD1630F937A25751C1A96​29C8B63 – Client sues Jackson Lewis for botching its defense (was subsequently settled under confidential terms) INTERESTING BECAUSE EMPLOYER ACCUSED LAW FIRM OF ENCOURAGING IT TO FIRE/SUSPEND THE LOUDEST COMPLAINERS – JUST LIKE QUARTZSITE!

  2. Cave Creek Cal says:

    Thank you for reporting on these abuses. I noticed there was an error in the Arizona Republic’s report which said 5 officers were suspended. The accurate count is 9 as reported here. I’ve even heard there could ultimately be 10 very soon. I have friends in Quartzsite, although I think they want to move. Imagine that!!!

  3. Steve Calabrese says:

    I have compiled a series of links that show that the law firm in question ONLY represents employers, never employees, and solely conducts investigations to gather evidence to defend employers who hire them. There has been no impartial investigation to date. However, the Seeing Red automated filter will not let me post it. If the Seeing Red admins will email me, I’d like to send them a copy of the links; they can also be read in the AZ Central story.

    • Seeing Red AZ says:

      You are welcome to include the links in a comment. We will put them up. The program Seeing Red AZ utilizes automatically spams comments with more than two links. We will look for yours and make sure it goes up.

      Thanks for your interest in helping us get this story out.

  4. fightinsloth says:

    I believe that 10 police department employees (9 officers and 1 technician, the same ten that complained about Gilbert) were initially places on “administrative leave”. Subsequently, 5 of those ten have been moved “suspended”. Seems likely the other 5 ultimately get suspended. Its also likely that the town (excluding the mayor) intends to ultimately terminate the 10. Johnson and Gilbert are setting the town up for ten wrongful termination suits.

  5. East Valley Voter says:

    From my perch here in the East Valley, it seems to me that the entire town council, Ass. manager Al Johnson and Jeff Gilbert, the pompous ass of a police chief all need to go.

    When we were kids, my younger brother would get upset when the game wasn’t going his way and upend the Monopoly or checker board. Although it ticked me off, he might have been on to something. It seems time to overturn these fools. No wonder Cave Creek Cal’s friends are looking to clear out of this burg.

  6. Orion says:

    The townspeople should enmass stop paying their city taxes. That small police force couldn’t round them all up. That would quickly defund all of these jerks who think they rule the world — or at least Quartzsite. No tax revenues, no salaries to these arrogant fools. Absent that, as an alternative, those with travel trailers can move them outside of the city limits in protest and set up a new governing body.

    • Doc says:

      Oh TRUST ME…AzDPS would be all over that like stink on poop!

      But I couldn’t agree with you more! Not a RED CENT MORE would they receive from me…

    • Jane says:

      I don’t understand, if AZDPS is not all over it now, why would they bother this poor town for passively trying to protect their interests? These people have done everything they possibly could within the law, yet no overseeing agency has come to their defense. This police chief has flipped; he’s broken enough laws to be arrested himself. Where is DPS now? Where is the FBI? Where is the AG, the governor? Quartzsite residents are justified in taking up arms and locking up all these crooks.

      • Doc says:

        Agreed, Jane. BUT…if the citizens start a “tax revolt”…THAT is a horse of a different color. Once the folks in Phoenix who should’ve been on this like white on rice lose their tax dollars, they’ll send in the cavalry!

      • PLUOT248 says:

        Our newly-elected AG Horne is hiding under his desk. His office claims that public corruption evidence must be submitted in writing prior to taking action. Makes you wonder what we really elected.

      • Jane says:

        Doc, I don’t see any other recourse for them short of dusting off the family arsenal. Clearly, they are not being represented anywhere. This chief put half his force under house arrest. Taxpayers are doling out hard-earned money to ghosts at the rate of $250,000/yr. There’s not even an injunction to stop the phony paychecks. The AZ legislature should grant them an emergency tax holiday until this mess gets cleaned up.

  7. Dave from Ohio says:

    I’m from a completely different area of the country, with politics that could not be more different from the more libertarian-minded citizens of Quartzsite.

    My outsider view of this is that just the reactions of Gilbert and the council tells the story: Foster was elected to investigate possibly corruption. He poked around a bit, and found corruption (to the tune of at least $250,000 a year), but hadn’t yet identified who all was in on it. Because Gilbert and the council were all in on it, they acted to try to protect themselves from criminal investigation by shutting Foster out of town financial records and by retaliating against anyone who spoke up. If there were nothing criminal to hide, they would have just let Foster investigate and investigate and not find anything.

    That’s criminal conspiracy, embezzlement, witness tampering and intimidation, numerous violations of civil rights, and public meetings law violations. Why are the handcuffs going around the wrists of the victims of the crimes rather than the perpetrators?

  8. gfsomsel says:

    What is being done is basically to put the officers in question under house arrest. If that in itself isn’t an abuse of power and a bullying tactic. It would appear to lend credibility to the officers’ claim. If he wants to suspend them, he may be able to do that though I don’t know the extent of his authority, but when he then requires that they remain at home during particular hours of the day (Isn’t he truly considerate to allow them an hour for lunch? ), but who made him a judge to give such an order?

  9. Villanova says:

    The investigating agency on the Quartzsite mess is DPS. The Attorney General (Tom Horne) and/or the LaPaz County Attorney (Sam Vederman) normally receive the results of the investigation before running headlong into charging without supporting investigative documentation.

    Count on this: Horne is not hiding under his desk, or anywhere else.

  10. Jerrye says:

    I find it particularly interesting that the officers suspended are on lock down in the day shift with an hour for lunch.Apparently they are stil being paid and clocked as though they were working the day shift. I imagine none of them were scheduled for the night shift since they aren’t locked down after sunset and free to be citizens when “off duty”..My question here is” What are these council people and sheriff on? And I don’t mean “shift”.

    The DOJ which is supposed to investigate racketeering is either too busy trying to untagle the chain of command agencies who are supposed to oversee this or they are waiting for the calvary.

    I would hope the people of Quartzsite would have a few good men and women left who are not on Medicare who could muster together a formal dismissal of the entire council and sheriff. End of Conversation. The people have the power to clean house. I hope they realize their power and move on it.

    • Jerrye says:

      What’s funny,if it were not so serious,is how the council and gang pick and choose which rules,regulations and actions they want to enforce. They must have had a lot of practice selecting and interpreting to their useful purpose of their time of “service”.Well, here goes at least a dozen more jobs. And as for those “phantom” payees involving maybe millions of disappeared money,welcome to America,Arizona. Oh,did I say Arizona, I meant Mississippi. Louisiana, Arkansas, Florida…………………………………………

  11. RockyBertsch says:

    Al Johnson is a work of art. The only one I hope. For an view of this self proclaimed Power Trip 1 read this although I am nervous about telling my first hand experience with Quartzsite at this juncture, it is a story of the rapid growth of corruption in Quartzsite which must be told. My experience of the rise and fall of Quartzsite’s Emergency Airstrip can be read on my Blog at http://quartzsite-thoughts.blogspot.com/