Four former Tucson-area law enforcement officers have lost their state certifications for police work, officials said last week.
A fifth former deputy has also lost his certification for three years, and two other men are facing the loss of theirs.
In a Wednesday meeting of the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board, members accepted agreements with former Tucson police Officer Jaime Gutierrez and former Oro Valley police Officer Elijah Woodward, allowing the men to voluntarily relinquish their certifications, said spokeswoman Sandy Sierra.
The board also voted to revoked the certifications of former Tucson police Capt. Decio Hopffer and ex-Pima County sheriff’s Deputy Kenneth Kimpel, Sierra said.
Also during the meeting, the board voted to suspend the certification of Arnold Romero, a former Pima County sheriff’s deputy, until March 2020, at which time it no longer be valid, Sierra said.
The board also voted to initiate proceedings to revoke the certification of Tucson police Officer Charles Foley, who still works for the department, after winning his job back after in an appeal of his termination with the city’s Civil Service Commission.
Anthony Levy, who was fired by Tucson police two days before he was due to start training at the academy, is also facing the loss of his certification, after the board voted to initiate proceedings against his certification, Sierra said.
The board heard the case of an eighth former officer, Michael Sauber, who was fired by Tucson police in August and voted to resolve the case in the future.
Without a valid peace officer certification, a person is barred from working in law enforcement in Arizona.
Gutierrez, a three-year veteran of TPD, was fired from in January 2016 after an internal investigation found that he lied to his supervisors and violated department policies, according to AZPOST records.
In May 2015, Gutierrez failed to document an incriminating statement by a suspect in an officer-involved shooting, the records show.
Gutierrez denied he had done anything wrong and said he planned to write the report up later, acknowledging that he knew the suspect was involved in the incident, according to the records.
He changed his story when he spoke to investigators, saying he didn’t know the suspect was involved in the shooting. Gutierrez was fired for untruthfulness, but later reinstated by the city’s Civil Service Commission.
He was fired again, after the results of an investigation into a second May 2015 incident showed he lied to a supervisor about an incident involving the release of a domestic-violence suspect whom other officers intended to arrest, according to AZPOST records.
He appealed the second firing, but the Civil Service Commission upheld it.
Hopffer, a 22-year TPD veteran, resigned in lieu of termination in April after he rear-ended a car and left the scene of the crash, AZPOST documents show.
The driver of the vehicle he hit called the police after Hopffer left the scene and provided officers with his license plate number and a description of Hopffer, according to the documents.
When investigators spoke to Hopffer, he admitted hitting the woman’s vehicle, but said she drove away and he lost her in traffic. He said he didn’t report the crash to the department because there was no damage to his car and he couldn’t find the woman, the documents show.
Surveillance cameras verified the woman’s story and during subsequent interviews with TPD investigators, Hopffer didn’t change his story. Investigators found there was “ample proof that (Hopffer) lied” in the investigation, according to the documents.
A criminal case against Hopffer for hit-and-run was presented to the Pima County Attorney’s Office, which declined to file charges. Hopffer was instead issued a ticket for leaving the scene , and he submitted his retirement to TPD days later.
Kimpel was fired from the Sheriff’s Department in April after he tested positive for cocaine during a random drug test and failed a follow-up test a week later, AZPOST documents show.
After the second failed test came back on March 30, Kimpel provided investigators with several different theories as to how cocaine could have gotten into his system, saying he went to a concert and left a beer unattended, frequented a bar where the bartender calls him “detective” and also used an e-cigarette that belonged to an unknown woman, according to the documents.
Kimpel had been employed by the Sheriff’s Department for 11 years.
Romero had worked for the Sheriff’s Department for nine months when he was terminated in March, after he lied to his field training officer about obtaining the date of birth from a person who reported suspicious activity near a local elementary school, according to AZPOST documents.
While Romero ultimately admitted to forgetting the date of birth from the reporting party, he initially searched through the department’s computer system for the person’s name and used the date of birth for a person with a similar name, the documents show.
When he was confronted by his supervisor with the inaccurate information, Romero first lied, saying he’d asked the man for his date of birth before admitting that he’d forgotten.
The AZPOST suspended Romero’s certification effective March 14, 2017, through March 20, 2020, at which time it will lapse, Sierra said.
Tucson police recruit Levy was dismissed from the department Oct. 9, three days after he was accepted into the police academy, AZPOST documents show.
On Oct. 6, Levy went to a bar to celebrate his acceptance into the academy. At about 3:30 a.m. the next morning, Levy was driving on the south side of town when his truck left the roadway, hit a curb and crashed into a bed of cacti, according to the documents.
When TPD officers responded to a 911 call by a neighbor, Levy told them he’d been drinking with friends the night before but had stopped drinking around midnight.
Levy told them he was due to start the academy on Monday and when he was completing a field sobriety test, he told officers “I’m under the influence” and “I can’t do this, I had too much,” the documents show.
At one point while he was talking to officers, Levy said, “Look at my truck, I was drunk when I crashed,” according to the documents.
Subsequent breath tests revealed Levy’s blood-alcohol content to be 0.143, nearly twice the legal limit.
He was cited for DUI and failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident before being released to an Uber at the scene, the documents show.
Levy’s DUI case is pending in Tucson City Court, according to online records.
Foley was fired by TPD in June after a criminal investigation by the Sheriff’s Department revealed he forged his ex-wife’s name on a jointly held investment account check, according to Arizona Daily Star archives.
Foley, a 16-year TPD veteran, came under investigation after his ex-wife called to report the theft, saying her ex-husband had forged her signature without her knowledge and failed to give her half of the money from the check, as was ordered in their divorce decree, Star archives show.
When sheriff’s detectives interviewed Foley via telephone, he denied signing his ex-wife’s name, saying he didn’t know who did.
When Foley spoke to police investigators, he said he’d emailed his ex-wife to let her know he received the check, but could not provide proof of the email.
The office of professional standards determined Foley lied during the police investigation and committed felony forgery.
The Sheriff’s Department presented the forgery case against Foley to the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, which declined to file charges, according to TPD documents.
Foley appealed the firing and in October, the city’s Civil Service Commission voted to overturn the termination, saying that while there was evidence Foley engaged in misconduct, there wasn’t just cause for the firing, Star archives show.
As of Dec. 21, Foley was assigned to TPD’s communications division.
Sauber, a probationary officer, had worked for TPD for a year when he was fired in August after he was accused at pointing a handgun at his father while he was off-duty at a family gathering, according to AZPOST documents.
A family member who was at the gathering and standing behind Sauber’s father believed he could have been shot if the gun had gone off and told another family member about the incident, who reported it to police, the documents show.
On July 28, Sauber was in the front yard of a family member’s house during a birthday party when he and his father began “roughhousing” by “pushing and jabbing” each other, according to the documents.
“There were words exchanged in a joking manner between Sauber and his father,” the documents say. “Sauber then told his father, ‘Hey, I have my gun, it’s right here.’”
Sauber told investigators he always did this as a courtesy so his father would be aware, then lifted his shirt and pulled his gun out of his holster inside the waistband of his pants and showed it to his father, the documents say.
When he spoke to detectives, Sauber said the gun was pointed at the ground until he returned it to his holster, according to the documents.
Sauber was arrested, but the Pima County Attorney’s Office later declined to file charges.
Sauber was fired for failing to meet and maintain standards as a result of his involvement in an incident that led to a felony arrest, the AZPOST documents show.
During the AZPOST meeting, board members felt that there wasn’t enough information to make a decision about Sauber’s certification, and voted to resolve the issue in the future, Sierra said.
Details regarding Woodward’s departure from the Oro Valley Police Department weren’t immediately available, as no case overview was provided to the AZPOST.