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Police commander dismissed by Buckeye
Lawyer claims action is vindictiveness by mayor

Marty Sauerzopf
The Arizona Republic
Nov. 23, 2004 12:00 AM

BUCKEYE - Town officials have fired a Police Department commander accused of improperly using his position to bolster union membership and using on-duty officers to conduct union business.

But an attorney for Cmdr. Kevin Clark said Monday that town leaders are vindictively trying to get rid of union members, particularly those who opposed Mayor Dusty Hull in his re-election campaign.

"The bottom line is, it's all retaliation for the campaign," said Kent Komadina, a Fraternal Order of Police lawyer representing Clark and several other former Buckeye officers. "Mayor Dusty Hull has gone all over town saying he's going to fire everyone involved with FOP. He's doing it."

Hull denied he was retaliating against union members and said he had nothing to do with the allegations.

"I did not initiate this investigation," Hull said. "I did not accuse Commander Clark of anything. This is not a vendetta against any town personnel."

Clark and Officer Geoffrey Hossack were placed on administrative leave July 1, pending the outcome of an investigation conducted by the Arizona Department of Public Safety. Hossack has since resigned and now works for the Pinal County Sheriff's Office.

In a roughly 400-page report completed last month, DPS investigators detailed incidents in which Clark and Hossack allegedly coordinated to conduct FOP business while on duty. The report describes several instances in which Hossack and his partner, on Clark's orders, drove outside the town while on duty to deliver union documents.

Another officer contends in the investigation that Clark ordered him to copy thousands of documents on a Buckeye copying machine and that the documents were related to FOP's efforts to get the former Avondale police chief, Stephen MacKinnon, fired.

Still another officer contends that Clark compelled him to use his accrued compensatory time to pass out fliers endorsing failed mayoral candidate Bobby Bryant during the spring elections. The officer said Clark also asked him to stand at a polling place to talk to voters.

In the report, Clark, who is president of the West Valley FOP lodge and the union's statewide treasurer, denied the allegations. Komadina said the town is illegally engaging in "union-busting" and pointed to Clark, Hossack and at least one other FOP member who was fired. He said he planned to file an administrative appeal of Clark's firing today and would likely take the case to court if the town does not reverse its position.

Town Manager Carroll Reynolds could not be reached for comment.

Reach the reporter at marty. or (602) 444-6920.