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Glendale city officials stand by decision to rehire recently-retired police chief

Posted: 6:39 PM, Sep 11, 2019
Updated: 2019-09-12 14:13:27-04
Glendale Police Chief Rick St. John

GLENDALE, AZ — [Editor's note: A previous version of the above video report misidentified a Glendale employee as City Manager Kevin Phelps. The video has been edited to correct the information. ABC15 regrets the error.]

The Glendale mayor believes the backdoor rehiring of the recently-retired police chief through an outside company to a new top city job was transparent and legal.

However, Mayor Jerry Weiers and other city council members distanced themselves from the decision by saying they had no advanced knowledge or involvement in the move to hire Rick St. John into the newly-created position of deputy city manager over public safety.

St. John retired from the police department on July 31st and was then re-hired August 27th through outside staffing company Interim Public Management, or IPM.

He will now collect a six-figure pension on top of his new salary, which could reach up to $192,000, records show.

"I think it was transparent. I think it was done legally," Weiers told ABC15 as he got into an elevator, ending a 90-second interview.

ABC15 approached the mayor and multiple city council members at a public meeting on Tuesday. None had responded to multiple requests for comment since their decision to approve the contract with the outside company two weeks ago.

Vice Mayor Joyce Clark made it clear she has no intention of explaining her vote.

"I have no comment. You can stand there all day, ask questions, I’m not going to comment. Thank you," Clark said.

On August 27th, the council voted to approve a contract with IPM to fill the deputy city manager position without going through the normal hiring process. The agenda and attached documents did not list Rick St. John as the contract employee who would be getting the job.

Councilmember Bart Turner told ABC15 he had no idea St. John had already been selected by city staff for the position.

He was the only council member to raise transparency concerns about the process. Under his repeated questions, he got the city’s HR director to admit before the vote St. John would get the job.

Mayor Weiers and other council members said they did not have any advanced conversations or meetings with St. John regarding the new position.

They deferred questions about the process to City Manager Kevin Phelps, who has declined multiple interview requests.

When approached, St. John declined to talk about his job.

"I'm sorry, as much as I'd love to speak to you, I can't," he said. "I've been advised and instructed to allow the city to handle the media interest."

Under St. John’s leadership, the Glendale Police Department was placed under an FBI investigation after ABC15 exposed a disturbing use-of-force incident captured on an officer’s body camera.

Police tasered a man nearly a dozen times before one of the officers pulls down his shorts and stunned him in the testicles, according to the video and a lawsuit.

Contact ABC15 Investigators Dave Biscobing and Melissa Blasius at dave@abc15.com and melissa@abc15.com .