HomeLaw EnforcementLack of Ethics on Display, Again - Carrie Candler

Lack of Ethics on Display, Again – Carrie Candler

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I’m hearing lots of stories and rumors coming out of Gilbert PD in regards to Commander Carrie Candler, who was an LT with my former agency, Scottsdale PD, before moving on.  I can say that in my 20+ with Scottsdale, having worked with hundreds of different cops from all different agencies, she was by far the most unethical, immoral and evil person I worked with in law enforcement.  I truly believe she is a sociopath, that finds great joy in hurting others.  Why Scottsdale didn’t fire her, and in fact continued to promote her, is still beyond me.  And if just some of the stories I’m hearing out of Gilbert are marginally true, Gilbert PD is making all the same mistakes.  Here’s a little history.

Candler was a cop with Mesa PD.  Around 2003, when I was a Field Training Officer (FTO), she was my trainee when she lateraled over to our department.  I had her for her 3rd Phase of training (out of 4).  Both of her previous FTOs warned me about her attitude, although they both agreed she was doing well in terms of her police work, officer safety, etc.  I trained her for four weeks.  I had no problem with her and found her unremarkable both on a professional and personal level.  I didn’t find any issues with her attitude or personality when I was with her.

In 2005 I was assigned to be a Recruit Training Officer (RTO) at Mesa PD’s Police Academy.  About two weeks into the job I was approached by several Mesa officers who asked how she was doing in Scottsdale.  I told them my experience with her.  Almost to a person, they all said to give it time, that her real personality would come out.  The common theme from the Mesa officers was that she was so disliked it was almost unsafe for her because there were a number of officers that would not back her if she got into trouble.  This, I guess, was part of the reason she left Mesa.  I didn’t get the full story because I didn’t really care, but I remember being taken aback by their universal hate for her.

Then she started doing a bunch of dumb shit in Scottsdale as an officer.  I started getting wind that she was throwing us, her former FTOs, under the bus for not training her correctly when she started getting jammed up.  That’s common in the profession and I didn’t pay much attention to it.  This culminated in a pursuit one night.  When she was ordered by her LT to stop chasing the car, because it entered the 101 Freeway going the wrong way in traffic, she didn’t.  The suspect vehicle ended up hitting another car, killing an innocent 22-year-old kid.  I think the City of Scottsdale paid out close to $1 million dollars because of it but, the real number was not released.

While those supervising the pursuit got the worst punishment, causing one guy to retire, many were confused why Candler got off so light (a couple of days suspension), as she was perceived by many to be the driving force in the pursuit and subsequent accident.  Stranger yet, a very short time later she was actually promoted to Sergeant.  For most, the pursuit was a serious infraction that would set your career back 3-5 years, if not forever.  Not her, within about two years she was in stripes.

Then the shit hit the fan.  As a SGT she started jamming up her people at record levels.  Officers ran from her squad.  Officers ran from calls she was on.  Many officers found her unprepared and unqualified to supervise in both knowledge and temperament.

No matter, she got promoted to a specialty unit, becoming the supervisor of our Sex Crimes Unit even though she had no experience with sex crimes or investigations in general.  She had never even held the position of Detective with either Scottsdale or Mesa that I could remember.  Now this is not unheard of, but SGTs promoted from Patrol to Investigations without having prior detective experience usually go to a less important unit like Burglary until they can get up to speed on how to run an investigation.  It was unheard of for a Patrol SGT, with no detective experience, to go directly to the Person’s Crimes Division.

As supervisor of the Sex Crimes Unit she almost immediately made a name for herself, not in a good way.  In October 2012 Scottsdale had two rapes by what appeared to be the same suspect.  During the investigation a person came forward and gave a semi-confession. His name was Ryan Festa.  Most detectives on the case felt something was strange about him, his story and his semi-confession.  Festa had some mental impairments that were obvious to anyone that interviewed him.  Regardless, he was arrested and the charging process began. It was later determined that DNA taken at several crime scenes did not match his.  Detectives moved to drop the charges and have the suspect removed from custody.  Not only were they over-ridden by Candler, she made attempts to have the DNA results swept under the rug according to many close to the case.  I wasn’t directly involved in it and don’t know many of the facts or what she did or didn’t do.  I just remember several detectives that were besides themselves because this “suspect” that was being held  was obviously innocent.  From what I remember, someone went over Candler’s head and notified the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office of the DNA results.  This resulted in a strong rebuke by the Prosecutor and a black eye for the PD.

He was freed eventually, only to be arrested at least one more time, on the orders of Candler, for another criminal infraction when detectives felt they had no evidence it was him, again.  Nobody could figure out what she was doing and distanced themselves from her and the case.

Ultimately Festa wasn’t charged in the series of rapes and the real suspect was found and arrested a short time later.  Many felt she would be demoted back to the road.  Nope, she continued on as the supervisor of the unit for several years, while a shit load of other problems began to surface.

A 2014 investigation found that between 2009-2013 her unit unfounded a record percentage of reported rapes.  Basically, under her direction, detectives were told not to believe victims unless there was serious evidence against them.  I can tell you from being involved in some of these cases as a Forensic Computer Examiner for the PD, there were a lot of cases “unfounded” that I thought had merit.  She was a disaster.  Everyone knew it.  Everyone talked about it.  But those in power, namely Commander Popp, who managed all of Investigations, went to bat for her.  To this day I’m not sure anyone knows why. There have been many rumors floated, but the real reason, or reasons, have never been fully explained.

Then she targeted both me and my boss due to some power conflict I was totally unaware of.  I won’t go into great detail but I only bring it up my case to show a pattern she would continue.  She accused me of acting unprofessionally during a call-out.  She had said that several employees had complained about my behavior and attitude on the night in question.  She demanded an Internal Affairs investigation be started by my supervisor as a result.  This was ironic.  You see, she was not at the call, ever.  Another supervisor was and he actually put me in for an “atta boy” award for my actions that night.  Literally, one hour I was in my supervisor’s office getting an atta boy, the next hour I was back being interviewed about my behavior on the same call.  I demanded a meeting with everyone involved.  During that meeting Candler stated that “everyone” at the call-out had contacted her about my rude and unprofessional behavior.  I pushed for details and names.  She would provide none.  The supervisor that complimented my work that night went to bat for me 100%.  The meeting ended with no resolution.  I recorded the entire meeting.

I later pulled the dispatch records to see everyone on the call.  I contacted each person and received an email from them stating they had no conversation with Candler, or anyone else, about me or my behavior on that evening.  They all seemed generally surprised about my inquiry.  I turned around and demanded some action.  I had good evidence she had lied, had her on tape saying one thing and emails showing the opposite.  She was never investigated but the investigation on me magically disappeared.

One month later she came at me again.  This time she told me that an item taken from the scene at the aforementioned call-out was not evidence and asked that it be sent through the interoffice mail system to the case detective so it could be returned to the owner.  I did.  A week later she demanded my supervisor initiate an Internal Affairs investigation on me for mishandling evidence.  She flat out lied and stated to my bosses that she told me it was evidence (to this day the item is not listed in the case as evidence).  My boss refused to start the investigation, having been involved in the case himself, he knew the item was totally unrelated to the case.

While this was going on, I was pulled into a meeting with my boss.  During the meeting he told me that Candler’s actions towards me had nothing to do with me but that it was an attempt to force him to move back to Patrol, a common tactic used to discipline and embarrass people within the organization.

I used the Open Door Policy and asked for a meeting with one of the two Deputy Chiefs, Chief Cocca.  During that meeting I was basically told the actions taken against me were a result of personality conflicts between my boss and those that didn’t like him, but in the end he refused to help, siding with Candler.  I was stunned.

Weeks later my supervisor was forced back to the road for “failure to supervise” me and his unwillingness to go along with the IA investigation.

As soon as my former supervisor got to the road, Candler went after one of the people on his new Patrol squad.  One of his officers released a detained Investigative Lead after the case detective informed the officer he was no longer a suspect.  Days later Candler demanded an IA investigation on the officer, stating that the officer released the person after being told to keep him.  The officer presented a document written by the case detective where she noted that she told the officer to release the suspect.  My old boss again refused to investigate further after seeing the document.  Candler went around him, out of her chain of command, and had an IA investigation started on the officer, thus forcing my old boss to once again investigation one of his guys when he felt it had no merit.  When he returned to the report writing system later, the document had been deleted and a new one replaced it with no mention of the conversation authorizing the officer to release the suspect.  My old supervisor demanded someone look into how the document could have been deleted, putting the blame directly on Candler.  Nothing was ever done, well something was.

Candler was promoted again, this time to LT and she went back to Patrol to be a Watch Commander.  She immediately went after my old boss using the same tactics, but now with more power.

We had just moved over to body cameras.  There was much debate about it.  The fear was supervisors would “go shopping” for misbehavior and/or policy violations on people they didn’t like using the hours of video captured by the cameras.  It was therefore written into policy that only supervisors within an officer’s chain-of-command could view body camera video of an officer.

One of Candler’s friends and/or relatives (I don’t remember) was stopped and arrested for reckless driving.  He lodged a complaint on the officer.  It was an officer, once again, supervised by my old SGT.  While he viewed the body camera video he noticed the audit trail on it showed it had been accessed and downloaded by Candler, who was not in the officer’s chain-of-command, thus a direct violation of the new policy.  My old supervisor determined that the officer’s behavior was not out of line or out of policy.  Candler pushed the issue and again got an IA investigation started on the officer.  When it was investigated by IA, it was obvious he had watched the body camera video at some point, tossing out several direct quotes from it.  Armed with that information and the audit trail on the downloaded video, my former supervisor asked for an investigation on the unauthorized access of the video.  That, of course, never happened.

Months later a lot of people began to see a pattern emerging.  My old supervisor was again ordered to start and investigation on one of his people, initiated by Candler.  Once again the officer was blind-sided by it and accused Candler of flat-out fabricating stuff about him.  Knowing the past history, he didn’t sit back and took it directly to Human Resources.

The audio recording I provided to HR when they were conducting their investigation on her.

When HR looked at the totality her record, the multiple complains about her integrity and the pattern of going after this one supervisor’s people, they opened a city-wide internal investigation on her.  This time it was out of the hands of the police department and in the hands of the city.  It went on for months.  In all, at least five officers (me included) were pulled in.  Each one of us had good documentation in the form of my audio recording/emails, the audit trail of the body camera video, the deletion record of the police report and a few other things, that we felt HR would sustain the charges on her.  I think most of the police department did . . . hoping she would either be fired or demoted.

For the first time people at the leadership level of PD began to openly talk of her termination.  There was open talk that her career ascension within the organization was effectively done.  Most thought she would be fired since Chief Rodbell had a policy that a LT would not be demoted for cause, only fired.  In the end, nothing.  She was exonerated on all counts.  What did happen to her then?  You guess it, she was promoted again, this time to the newly created XO position.  Some saw it as a promotion.  Some argued that it was a protective measure to get her away from directly supervising people, as this was a more administrative position.

This is about the same time the Gilbert job came open.  I’m sure our Command Staff gave her a glowing review as part of the “passing the lemon” practice SPD had.  Let me explain.  It was originally coined by SGT Jeff Smythe and to this day is one of the unwritten practices still alive and well at the PD that makes my blood boil.  When a supervisor has a troubled officer, someone that maybe shouldn’t have made it through the FTO process, is extremely lazy or flat out incompetent, instead of taking ownership of the person and trying to improve him (or just firing him) they make it so uncomfortable for him professionally that the officer moves to a different supervisor.  They “pass the lemon”.

The joke around the PD after Candler got hired at Gilbert was that it was the ultimate passing of the lemon.

From what I hear she’s has continued the exact same behavior with Gilbert PD.  I think she started a record number of Internal Affair investigations on people within her first couple of months.  I know at least two employees retired as a result of all the bullshit with her.  I’ve heard the only person going to bat for her is the Chief.  I’ve also heard that he recognized what he has in her and forced her to write an organization-wide apology letter for her behavior.  I don’t know what’s true and what’s not, but I can tell you this:  there was not one watery eye when she left Scottsdale.

Six months after my retirement from Scottsdale I look back on the people that ran the place and can only think of two that were truly immoral people, Steve Gissell and Candler.  On a side note, Gissell was chased out of his Chief position in California before he could be charged criminally for misuse of public funds.  He’s now a Chief back in AZ, for Cottonwood PD.  Congratulations Cottonwood.

I don’t understand how Candler continues to get away with it, but she does.  I guess she is Gilbert’s problems now.

Hey Gilbert, let me know if you want the audio recording and follow-up emails.  I still have all the stuff saved.

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