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Will state board open investigation into Buckeye PD Chief Larry Hall?

Posted: 9:50 PM, Dec 17, 2019
Updated: 2019-12-18 15:21:51-05
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BUCKEYE, AZ — UPDATE:

The Arizona Peace Officer’s Standards and Training board voted against moving forward with new disciplinary cases against the certifications of Buckeye Police Chief Larry Hall and Lt. Charles Arlak.

The board left the matter up to “agency discretion.”

Hall and Arlak were previously suspended by the city.

ORIGINAL STORY:

The state police certification board will vote Wednesday morning whether to open a disciplinary case against Buckeye Police Chief Larry Hall and one of his top lieutenants.

The Arizona Peace Officers Standards and Training Board, AZPOST, has placed Hall and Lt. Charles Arlak on its December 17 agenda under new cases.

It’s not clear what specific allegations the pair is facing.

AZPOST Executive Director Matt Giordano said he and his staff won’t discuss cases ahead of a vote.

But the potential AZPOST investigation of Hall is unique considering the chief sat on the board for three years from November 2015 to November 2018.

Arlak and Hall were both sustained of multiple violations after an outside investigation was ordered by the Buckeye city manager to examine widespread allegations of misconduct, including the falsification of crime statistics.

ABC15 first exposed inaccuracies with Buckeye’s rock-bottom crime statistics in May 2018.

The city grossly under-reported violent crimes for years and claimed to be the safest city in the Valley in order to recruit new residents and businesses.

For example, in 2017 before getting caught for having false stats, Buckeye claimed to have just eight aggravated assaults and three sex assaults for a city with nearly 70,000 residents. The next year, Buckeye reported numbers 10 times higher in those categories: 78 aggravated assaults and 30 sex assaults.

Chief Hall, along with Lt. Arlak and Sgt. James Virgadamo who both oversaw the crime statistics, all claimed they didn’t know basic crime reporting rules during the outside investigations.

But experts found those explanations hard to believe.

ABC15 also learned Arlak received specific training from DPS related to crime statistic gathering in 2012.

Hall and Arlak received a week suspension from the city in response to the outside investigation.

Sgt. James Virgodamo, who was found to have intentionally under-classified crimes, resigned and already had a case brought before AZPOST.

He voluntarily forfeited his police officer certification, according to the board’s November meeting minutes.

In an email, a Buckeye spokesperson said the city will cooperate with AZPOST’s investigation.

Contact ABC15 Investigator Dave Biscobing at dave@abc15.com.