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City of Buckeye releases external investigation into falsified crime statistics

Buckeye police
Posted at 3:23 PM, Jun 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-05 18:23:27-04

BUCKEYE, AZ — The city has released an external investigation into allegations the police department manipulated crime statistics to under-report the amount of violent crime.

INVESTIGATION: Are Buckeye's low violent crime statistics too good to be true?

The ABC15 Investigators were the first to report on what appeared to be deliberate attempts by Buckeye police officials to find exemptions that would reclassify crimes such as aggravated or sexual assault as something else.

The review did conclude the department improperly recorded crime statistics, and several police officials were disciplined.

Police Chief Larry Hall was suspended for 40 hours in November 2018, the city said. He also "accepted responsibility for deficiencies in oversight of the crime statistic reporting process."

RELATED: Buckeye city officials no longer stand by crime stats after ABC15 investigation

Lieutenant Charles Arlak was suspended for 20 hours in connection with misclassifying crime statistics while another lieutenant, McGeough, received a letter of reprimand "for violating policy as it relates to obtaining secondary equipment." One officer, Sgt. James Virgadamo, was found to have violated policy for altering crime statistics and harassment in the workplace. Virgadamo resigned rather than face termination, the city said.

In response to the report, the city said it has taken several steps to correct and improve its crime reporting procedures, including submitting amended crime statistics for 2016 and 2017 at the center of the allegations and reassigning an unspecified number of employees who had worked on crime reporting.

The external investigation cost the city at least $45,000 as of this January.

"We are confident under the current leadership of Chief Hall, Buckeye will continue to maintain the highest professional standards and services to our residents," the city said. "Corrections to the sustained allegations were made and the department is successfully moving forward."