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Quartzsite, Arizona Police Chief Jeff Gilbert is struggling desperately to maintain his position after three quarters of his own officers filed formal complaints against him with Arizona Conference of Police and Sheriffs (AZCOPS) and Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board (AZPOST). The timing of these complaints appears to be in response to evidence and testimony expected to be revealed in currently pending lawsuits against the town and the ongoing criminal prosecution of citizens who have a documented history of complaining about the police chief's patterns and practices. Now that Governor Brewer has signed a bill which amends A.R.S. 14 - 1822 and allows AZPOST to revoke an officers certification, many citizens and law enforcement officers are hoping that's the least of what happens to Jeff Gilbert.
A former officer with the Colorado River Indian Tribes (CRIT), Gilbert is also a current legislative member of the Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police (AACOP)
Allegations have been made against Quartzsite's Police Chief for both criminal conduct and ethical violations of the town's personnel manual. They range from assault, illegal searches and arrests, surveillance and investigation of political opponents, "official police business" being conducted without reports filed, false reporting, and grant fraud, to abuse of National Crime Information Center (NCIC) background checks for personal use and/or without probable cause. La Paz County Republican Precinct Chairman Michael Roth maintains he was falsely arrested for "disorderly conduct" and placed on the FBI "terrorist watch list" for his outspoken criticism of Police Chief Jeff Gilbert.
After being notified that officers of the Quartzsite Police Department intend to publicly announce a vote of "no confidence", read their formal complaints and ask the Town Council to terminate Chief Gilbert's recently renewed contract for "cause" at the next regular meeting of the Common Council on June 14th, Mayor Ed Foster scheduled a special meeting for Wednesday, June 1st at 6 pm, to discuss the situation.
The police chief's current contract, which included additional pay raises, was prematurely renewed on February 8th, 2011 by unanimous council approval, after Mayor Foster recused himself from the meeting. Foster wanted no part of what he believed was an orchestrated plot by Town Manager Alexandra Taft to secure ongoing employment for Gilbert, before the majority of the Quartzsite Town Council faced a March recall election. All five political challengers wanted Chief Gilbert terminated, but narrowly missed in their attempt to unseat recalled incumbents.
Rather than have the officer's complaints investigated at no charge by the Major Crimes Division of the state police, Town Manager Alex Taft has instead chosen to hire a private firm, in what appears to be a pattern of damage control and cover up. Last spring, it was rumored that a friend of Chief Gilbert's at the Sheriff's office was specifically requested to investigate complaints made to AZPOST by Mayor Ed Foster, former Councilman Bill Moore, and businesswoman Jennifer Jones (Harris). This assignment was alleged to be the result of a deal struck between Taft, Gilbert, and La Paz County Sheriff Don Lowery. Lowery had also refused to investigate the assault complaint made by Jones against Police Chief Jeff Gilbert and Quartzsite Detective Felipe Rodriguez on April 13th of 2010, despite the video being posted to Youtube.
A recent town council candidate with no prior criminal history, Jennifer Jones has been arrested three times, and charged with a total of 10 misdemeanors since filing her AZPOST complaint. Her husband John was also arrested over the same incidents, and charged with three misdemeanors. Neither has been brought to trial. The police chief compared Mrs. Jones and Michael Roth to Tucson gunman Jarrod Laughner at the January 11th Quartzsite Council Meeting. After a year and a half of contriving criminal complaints that didn't hold water, the Police Chief finally arrested the mayor May 10th, on charges of "disorderly conduct". Apparently, the result of Foster calling Gilbert an "idiot" five days earlier in the parking lot of Town Hall.
The rift between Chief Gilbert's supporters and numerous critics runs deep. La Paz County Prosecutor Sam Vederman has repeatedly refused to insert his office into the political fray. Pending the results of the current AZCOPS/AZPOST investigation, many in the community are now hoping that the FBI and Justice Department will take a serious look into Quartzsite corruption.
For more information, contact:
Will Ponce, President, Quartzsite Police Officers Association
Mayor Ed Foster
Michael Roth, La Paz County Republican Precinct Chairman
(602) 791-5401 or (928)927-8888
333 W Ft Lowell Rd Ste 211
Tucson AZ 85705
(24/7) Toll Free 888.622.2215
2643 E. University Drive
Phoenix, AZ 85034 Voice: 602.223.2514 Fax: 602.244.0477
75 East Civic Center Drive
Gilbert, Arizona 85296
Office - 480-635-7757
FAX - 480-635-7761
"Quartzsite Police Chief Gilbert assaults man for videotaping "