Fired officers ‘proficient’ in recent evaluations

Three former Grand Junction Police Department officers who were fired Thursday had been found “proficient” in individual performance evaluations completed over the past six months, according to records released Monday by the city of Grand Junction.

Former officers Justin Roberts, 31, Phillip Van Why, 35, and Joseph Mulcahy, 28, were graded as “meeting or exceeding” expectations in customer service, job knowledge and performance, teamwork and communication, the records said.

Van Why was evaluated on April 1, just over a month before Grand Junction police administrators say he, Roberts and Mulcahy used pocket knives to damage tents, bicycle tires and other property at a transient camp near the confluence of the Gunnison and Colorado rivers. The officers were looking for a man wanted for questioning in a theft investigation.

The city provided information on the former officers’ performance and final payouts in response to request filed Friday by The Daily Sentinel under the Colorado Open Records Act.

Police Chief John Camper on Thursday said Mulcahy and Van Why previously had received minor discipline, including counseling, after they were investigated internally in separate matters unrelated to the incident at the transient camp May 3.

The former officers, all hired within the past 44 months, received no compensation beyond their gross pay and compensatory and leave time payouts, city spokeswoman Sam Rainguet said.

Each received final checks on Thursday. Combined, the officers were paid a total of $12,983, according to the records.

Rainguet said as non-exempt employees, police officers can accrue compensatory time in lieu of being paid overtime. Leave time accounts for paid time off, vacation or absence for medical reasons, she said.

The three officers were earning the same annual wage at the time of their firing: $62,232.

Grand Junction police Sgt. Dave Stassen, president of the Grand Junction Peace Officers Association, said the three officers had been active, dues-paying members of the organization and were dismissed upon their firing. As of Friday afternoon, none had asked for an extension of his membership, he said.

Stassen said the group, which has 110 sworn and non-sworn employees of the Grand Junction and Fruita police departments, had no position on the firings.

“The association believes that the department followed all the rules set forward by the directives of both the police department and the city of Grand Junction while the internal investigation was being conducted, and the officers were treated fairly during the process,” Stassen wrote in an e-mail.

Benefits for members include a defense plan for officers facing criminal, civil or administrative allegations, although Stassen said he didn’t know whether three officers fired last week retained attorneys under the benefit.


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