The former chief of the Goodyear Police Department is planning to voluntarily relinquish his peace officer certification during next week’s meeting of the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training (AZPOST) board, the Arizona Daily Independent has learned.
The decision by Gerald “Jerry” Geier to relinquish his certification at the board’s Aug. 19 meeting comes prior to any formal action by AZPOST to investigate allegations of misconduct which led to the chief’s firing last December. It also slams the door on public access to any correspondence submitted to AZPOST about the allegations.
Geier cannot serve as a sworn peace officer for any state, county, or municipal agency without a valid AZPOST certification. A voluntary relinquishment does not require an admission of any misconduct, but Geier’s decision will be permanent, according to AZPOST rules.
The relinquishment will also trigger a report to the National Decertification Index (NDI), which serves as a registry of peace officer license revocations.
Geier took the helm at Goodyear’s police department in 2012 after a few years as Yuma’s police chief. He was placed on paid administrative leave in October before being fired based on the findings by outside investigators that Geier violated administrative policies.
What administrative policies were violated and how was not made public while Geier appealed the firing, although city officials said it was “non-criminal and non-financial in nature.” Also placed on leave in October was then-Deputy Chief Justin Hughes.
In his appeal, Geier alleged that the head of the Goodyear Police Officers Association conspired with Hughes to get Geier ousted so Hughes could be appointed chief. The city upheld Geier’s firing in April following a three-day hearing that ended with a civil service examiner blasting Geier’s conduct.
“As chief of police, (Geier’s) dishonesty during the investigation are unfathomable actions and are a corruption of what police work is all about,” the examiner noted in supporting the termination. “(Geier) was dishonest during the investigation of his ethics and conduct.”
Last year the outside investigation report was forwarded to AZPOST, which can suspend or revoke a peace officer’s certification upon a finding of misconduct. Its review process leading to such findings becomes public once the board is presented with a formal report of the allegations.
But Geier’s appeal of his termination delayed that formal report. And now his decision to relinquish his certification before the report is made means AZPOST will not release its documents related to the allegations.
Other public records, however, show one of the allegations against Geier involved what he knew at the time about a search conducted last year by Goodyear PD personnel looking for an FBI agent, who happened to be the wife of Hughes, the deputy chief.
Hughes and some coworkers went into Phoenix to look for his wife, who had apparently turned off her phone while meeting with an informant. The wife was found safe, but soon after it became known she was under investigation for an inappropriate relationship with the male informant.
Hughes remains on paid leave and was recently approved to initiate the process for a disability retirement. Documents related to his leave have not yet been made public by the city due to the Arizona’s Police Officer Bill of Rights, which prohibits the release of disciplinary records until an officer has exhausted all appeal options.
In 2014, then-Deputy Chief Jeff Rogers resigned his position following an investigative report by a Phoenix journalist into Rogers’ lack of supervisory oversight of the department’s internal affairs unit led by Hughes.
The report exposed complaints by some current and former officers that Rogers used his control of the IA unit to target officers he didn’t like. Once Rogers resigned, other officers complained Hughes misused the unit himself.
Geier isn’t the only Goodyear PD case on next week’s AZPOST agenda. A formal report is expected to the presented to the board concerning Officer Kyle Cluff, who was placed on leave last fall for reasons unrelated to Geier and Hughes.
Cluff resigned after admitting he lied to a superior officer about violating the chain of command in reporting concerns of another officer’s alleged policy violation. He told investigators he was untruthful during an interview with the superior officer due to concerns at the time for his personal safety.
The city’s investigation resulted in a finding that the superior officer -whose name is redacted- may have acted inappropriately while questioning Cluff.
In May, longtime Goodyear police officer Santiago Rodriquez was promoted to chief. He had served as acting chief since last October when Geier was placed on paid administrative leave.