Ousted officer blames chief

A Clark County School District police captain ousted last month over false statements on an application says Chief Filiberto Arroyo was responsible for the lies, and he was forced out only after he challenged Arroyo's leadership and spending habits.

William F. Goodwin, 42, formerly a top official at the 168-officer department, was given the option of resigning or being fired after officials discovered falsified employment history on his certification by the Nevada Commission on Peace Officers' Standards and Training, or POST. He resigned.

Goodwin said no one had an issue with his background until he questioned Arroyo's equipment purchases, which included shotguns and rifles even though the department does not issue them to the officers who police the district's 356 schools.

The fabrication involves misstatement of Goodwin's years of service to allow him to avoid lengthy training required for Nevada police officers.

Goodwin's 2008 POST application, obtained by the Review-Journal under the Nevada Public Records law, lists his dates of employment at the Manhattan Beach Police Department as June 1997 to January 2004. Officials at the Los Angeles-area department said Goodwin actually retired two years earlier, in January 2002.

Nevada law allows experienced officers from California and some other states to work here without repeating basic police academy training -- but only within five years of leaving their prior law enforcement job.

Goodwin became a school police captain in July 2008, six years after his California retirement. By law, he should have been required to complete 16 weeks of training. But because his application to POST said he had been retired for only four years, he had to take only a three-week refresher course in California and a two-week session in Nevada.

When contacted by the Review-Journal, Goodwin confirmed his resignation but denied making any misstatements.

"I was working one day, called in and told to resign or I'd be fired for something on my POST certificate," he said. "But that's not paperwork I filled out. That's something the department filled out and the chief signed.

"If there was an error on it, it wasn't mine,'' he said. "There's no place for my signature, even."

Arroyo's signature appears on almost every form in the POST packet, including one that asks the administrator to verify that all legal requirements, including a background check with former employers, were met. Forensic Investigator Troy Cox was the officer listed as having conducted Goodwin's background check. It's unclear who was responsible for actually checking with past employers.

Arroyo, in a written statement Friday, denied any wrongdoing.

"I did not falsify any document, and I am not aware that anyone who is currently employed by the CCSDPD falsified any documents,'' he wrote. "I cannot provide any information relating to Mr. Goodwin's personnel information.''

Tim Bunting, deputy director of the state POST commission, said it's a police agency's responsibility to handle applications and provide accurate information.

"The agency does their own background investigations; we don't handle that," Bunting said.

Goodwin gave the Review-Journal a copy of the separate employment application he filled out for the captain's job. It correctly lists 2002 as his California retirement date.

"That's my (employment) application. There's the only form I filled out," Goodwin said, adding that he did not participate in any "fudging" of dates on the paperwork the department sent to POST. "If that's what they're alleging, that's crap... I don't really think I have anything to hide."

When asked why a police captain with an administrative background didn't know Nevada POST laws -- and never learned them even after two years on the job -- Goodwin said he never checked.

"You go to your employer, the employer says we want you to take this job, pay for your training, well OK," he said. "I assumed, and obviously I was wrong, that I was covered."

Goodwin said his quick rise and even quicker fall from grace in the department -- about two years total -- was due to his ability to handle budgets and his willingness to question every purchase.

He began working for the district in 2005 as a second grade teacher. In 2007, he moved back toward police work as a campus safety coordinator, one of about 50 police administrative jobs that do not require certification. About a year later, Arroyo was promoted from captain to chief, replacing Hector Garcia.

Goodwin said Arroyo admired his administrative skills and respected his background. A Naval Academy graduate, Goodwin had served 11 years as a naval officer before joining the California Highway Patrol and later the Manhattan Beach department.

Soon after Arroyo's promotion, the wheels were set in motion for Goodwin to take Arroyo's old captain's job, with Goodwin taking the three-week recertification course in California. He said he was assured by administrators, including Arroyo and district general counsel Bill Hoffman, that the short courses alone would allow him to work as an officer in Nevada.

Hoffman denies that, saying in a written statement that "I did not give advice, and was never asked, about Mr. Goodwin's POST eligibility or certification.''

District Superintendent Walt Rulffes, who oversees the department, and School Board President Terri Janison declined comment for this report.

In July 2008, Goodwin was named captain, in charge of the administrative and operations divisions. The district believed the police department was having trouble managing its $18 million annual budget, he said he was told, and it would be his responsibility to take care of it.

"They (the district) were going to take away their (the police department's) ability to do payroll, they were going to take away the department credit cards, they were going to take away budget authority," he said. "It was given all to me and I fixed it all."

Goodwin said he kept the budget, managed the payroll and put an end to improprieties such as the practice where officers staffing basketball tournaments on overtime would be paid if they called in sick during their regular day shift and also get double-time pay because they worked the evening games.

"That's fraud," he said.

Goodwin said he later began to question Arroyo's decisions, especially related to the budget. In separate instances, Arroyo purchased assault rifles and shotguns even though department policy requires officers to buy their own long guns and become qualified to use them at work, he said.

Arroyo also purchased new uniforms and badges that were unnecessary, Goodwin said, and formed a special "board member protection detail" of seven or eight officers who attend board meetings in plainclothes while on overtime.

"There was just thousands of dollars being spent'' on "toys'' during a district budget crisis,'' Goodwin said.

Arroyo acknowledged that 10 shotguns and the first of five planned Beretta Storm carbines were purchased for the department, but said they were for "training purposes only," not for use by individual officers. Without providing details, he said uniforms are "provided when necessary" and that the new badges were "deemed appropriate to differentiate CCSDPD from the other law enforcement agencies in Clark County."

The chief said the size of the protection detail cannot be disclosed "for tactical and safety reasons" but wrote that "the entire detail has never been used at any one time."

Although he was hired by Arroyo as an administrative expert, Goodwin said he soon learned the chief did not appreciate scrutiny. He said Arroyo stopped talking to him and tensions rose.

"I don't think he wanted me to question his stuff. That's where it started to cause problems," he said.

But Goodwin said he was shocked when asked to resign in light of errors he did not make. Arroyo must have known about the false application, he said.

"Was this a setup? An emergency switch, in case things get bad?" he asked.

Arroyo said Goodwin was not fired for questioning department purchases.

"Absolutely not," he wrote. As it happened, Goodwin was on the verge of giving notice and had already lined up another job in North Carolina. He decided to simply resign rather than fight it out.

Despite his problems with how the department is run -- it's unlike any municipal department he has ever seen, he said -- the majority of the employees are hard workers and good people.

"They do the best job they can," he said. "But this department isn't run like a normal police department. And it's not overseen like a normal police department ... The people responsible for overseeing it really don't understand what they're doing."

Contact reporter Mike Blasky at mblasky@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0283.