Apache Junction interim Police Chief Steve Campbell wants to make his job permanent.
Campbell announced Friday that he will be among those meeting a May 28 deadline to apply for former Chief Robert Warner’s job.
Warner resigned in December after an independent audit cited evidence of ignored resident complaints, little disciplinary action for police misconduct, a sharp decline in solved cases and accusations that crime statistics had been manipulated.
Campbell, a Phoenix Police Department commander, agreed to come to Apache Junction to begin implementing several recommendations made by the Virginia-based firm of Carroll Buracker & Associates.
Now, Campbell said he would like to be a part of the department’s future.
Already, Campbell said morale is improving within the department with the implementation of new policies and procedures pertaining to report-taking, data entry and internal affairs investigations.
"It’s good to see people who are starting to say ‘I got a good positive comment today’ or ‘I like the way things are going,’ ‘’ Campbell said. "We’ve done a lot in a short amount of time given the resources available to us."
Many of the problems within the department were paperwork-related, Campbell said.
A record management software system was purchased in 1999, but was never made fully operational, Campbell said.
As a result, people were assuming data was being stored and kept when it wasn’t
Moreover, statistics were being kept in a multitude of ways, with conflicting results, making it difficult to know how many cases were actually being solved, Campbell said.
An Arizona Department of Public Safety investigation revealed that there was no evidence of crime statistics being manipulated, as originally thought, Campbell said. Officials did, however, recommend ways to prevent such manipulations.
"We are in the process of tightening up the process and putting in some quality control measures, which includes supervisory reviews," Campbell said.
The department is also working on some of its technological issues. Laptop computers are being put in patrol cars and a budget request has been submitted to upgrade the department’s 911 system.
Campbell said he’s been working hard trying to build trust within the department. He sends out weekly updates via e-mail, holds regular staff meetings and talks to people in hallways in the hopes of getting input.
Campbell has started to "turn things around," at the department, said Apache Junction council member John Insalaco.
"We’ve tried to stay out of the man’s business and just let him do his job, but we’ve been in touch with the town manager and it sounds like he’s straightening up the problems," Insalaco said.
Still, Insalaco said he will carefully study all of the applicants’ resumes.