The Apache Junction Police Department has been hit with a new complaint alleging Chief Glenn Walp and his top deputy engaged in harassment and retaliation against a female police officer.
Cynthia Adams, a former officer with the department, says in a claim filed Tuesday that she was forced out of the agency in part because she is friends with people who spoke to the Tribune last year about the repressive tactics used by Walp and Cmdr. Jay Swart. Adams also drew the ire of Walp and Swart when she refused to make what she considered an illegal arrest of a mentally ill woman, according to her complaint.
The claim, released on Friday, gives the city 60 days to rectify the situation or face a $1 million lawsuit. Adams, who spent about 17 years with the department, resigned from the force in December.
“During the entire time Officer Adams worked under Chief Walp, she experienced a hostile, intimidating and offensive work environment,” Adams says in her claim.
Adams’ claim is separate from an unrelated complaint alleging workplace harassment by Walp against a female civilian worker who is still employed by the department. Walp was ordered by City Manager George Hoffman to write an apology to convey his “genuine feelings of remorse” for his conduct in that case.
“It has been brought to my attention that my acts of philanthropy have caused you embarrassment and pressure,” Walp wrote in the apology, released late Friday. “I express to you my apologies and remorse that my philanthropic acts brought you this embarrassment and pressure.”
Walp was placed on paid administrative leave for a few days earlier this month because of that complaint.
He will also have to participate in sessions aimed at helping him understand how actions by a person in power could be perceived by other workers.
The employee in that case said Walp had bought her gifts, invited her to a formal dinner and offered to help buy her a new vehicle. Walp said he was just trying to be kind. An outside law firm brought in by the city to investigate concluded Walp’s actions were inappropriate. The woman has not been identified.
Neither Walp nor Swart returned phone calls seeking comment Friday. Hoffman also did not respond to a request for an interview.
City Attorney Joel Stern said he could not comment on specific allegations raised in Adams’ complaint. It will be turned over to an outside riskmanagement firm, which will investigate the charges and make recommendations to the city, he said.
Walp became police chief in January 2006. A month later, he hired Swart as his civilian commander.
In August the Tribune reported that after years of costly attempts to clean up the Apache Junction Police Department, an atmosphere of fear and retaliation had returned under Walp and Swart. Several employees said they took their concerns to Stern, and within weeks were subjected to harassment that ultimately forced them out of the agency.
Shortly after that article was published, Adams was approached by Jenny Lewis, Swart’s secretary, who told Adams her friends were ruining the reputations of Swart and Walp, according to the claim. Adams complained to Walp.
“Officer Adams then asked Chief Walp if she still had a job or if she was going to lose her job for speaking her mind,” the complaint says. “Chief Walp looked at Officer Adams and did not answer.”
Adams asked a second time, and Walp still refused to respond, according to the claim.
After that confrontation, Adams faced several incidents of retaliation that ultimately forced her to resign, the claim says.
In one instance, Swart ordered Adams to prepare a case against a mentally ill woman who frequently made irrational statements about the police department. Adams objected, arguing it would be illegal to charge the woman with making false police reports as Swart directed, because she lacked the mental acuity to be prosecuted.
Swart insisted charges be filed, stating he had experience dealing with “these people,” and that if they are arrested “they will go away for a long time and leave us alone,” the claim says.
In December, Adams says, she was driving to Phoenix to interview two children. Though her claim does not describe what the case was about, she says she was called back by her supervisor to attend a mandatory staff meeting scheduled by Walp. Adams told her supervisor that she wanted to complete the interviews because it was difficult to schedule interviews with children, but was told to return for the staff meeting.
Adams was told on December 11 that Swart believed Adams had been disrespectful toward her supervisor, and wanted a written report of the incident, according to the claim. She resigned the same day.
Neither Adams nor her attorney could be reached for comment.