The former DPS leader says the Phoenix police must be open to coin operated probes

(Twitter photo / City of Phoenix)

PHOENIX – A former Arizona law enforcement chief said Phoenix Police should conduct their own investigation into allegations that a challenge coin for officials contained hate speech.

“I think you need to do an investigation because part of the investigation is to decide whether or not it was wrongdoing – did it come from within?” Frank Milstead, former director of the Arizona Department of Public Safety and former Mesa police chief, told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show on Monday.

An internal investigation could lead the Phoenix Police Department to “see what freedom of speech is for officers versus wrongdoing for officers”.

City administrator Ed Zuercher said prosecutors would open an investigation.

ABC15 reported last week that a select group of Phoenix police officers were in possession of coins commemorating the day in 2017 when a man was shot with pepper spray projectiles during a protest.

The coin depicts a man being hit in the groin and a phrase mocking the man on one side and the other shows the date of the August 22nd incident during a protest when then-President Donald Trump visited him , and contained a similar congratulatory phrase on a slogan used by hate groups.

“It’s just not what your department or officers are supposed to do … spend a coin that actually makes people wonder if there are racists among them,” Milstead said.

(Courtesy ABC15)

Officers are usually given Challenge Coins to pay tribute to a specific time or event.

“It’s something people value,” said Milstead. “It shows a time when [certain] People were responsible or a specific operation is highlighted that someone can go back and look at and say, “You know what? I was part of it. ‘”

The coins are about the size of a silver dollar.

Police Chief Jeri Williams said in a statement that the department would take disciplinary action against officials involved in illegal or unethical conduct.

“In leadership, it’s always better to research, come to a conclusion, and publish the result,” said Milstead. “Publish it and that way everyone will know how you came to the conclusion that you did it.”

He said the idea that top brass propped up the coin was nonsense.

“Phoenix PD is a professional law enforcement agency. Jeri Williams cares about public trust and what’s going on in the agency. I think they will get to the bottom of this, ”said Milstead.

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