Tempe police chief vague about decision to keep officer - WNEM TV 5


Tempe police chief vague about decision to keep embattled officer

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For more than a month, CBS 5 has been pushing Tempe police for answers to basic questions about an officer who mishandled 10 investigations by allegedly hiding evidence in his garage.

Officer Tony Trow was supposed to be fired. But Tempe Chief Tom Ryff overturned that decision and put Trow back patrolling streets.

CBS 5 cameras finally caught up with Ryff outside a City Council meeting Thursday.

When Ryff was asked why Trow was kept on the force after it was recommended he be let go, he said, "This is a personnel matter that's been handled appropriately by the city of Tempe."

Ryff said he conducted a review based on city policy.

An internal investigation revealed Trow hid evidence from several murder cases in his garage. Fingerprint cards, crime scene photos and original recordings of interviews sat there for two years, tossed together in cardboard boxes.

Trow also never bothered to write reports for nearly a dozen cases. When he was asked why he didn't submit a rape kit involving a teenage girl, he told investigators that he "didn't see a pertinent need to get to it right away."

"The officer has the right to appeal," Ryff said. "He made that appeal. I looked at it. I reviewed all the facts and circumstances had a discussion with our city attorney and I made my decision based on what I thought was reasonable at the time."

Ryff made that decision after the investigation revealed Trow had "violated the public's trust, brought discredit to the citizens of Tempe, fellow employees and the Tempe police Department." The report continued saying, "Trow displayed a complete and continued lack of judgment, competency and failure to follow procedures."

When Trow was asked if all of the victims and the families have been notified that their cases were mishandled, he said, "Those are current investigations that are being handled."

The internal investigation into Trow wrapped up in August but it wasn't until CBS 5 News aired reports in December that Ryff decided to turn over the case to Arizona Peace Officers Standards and Training.

The agency holds police officers accountable for their actions and has the ability to revoke an officer's certification.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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