Phoenix police officer Steven Poulos is under investigation for threatening and terroristic remarks made in an October 21 meeting with fellow officers.
Several of Poulos' colleagues confirmed he made threatening comments about Phoenix, Arizona Mayor Kate Gallego. Poulos allegedly told the group if Mayor Gallego defunded the police, he would retaliate by shooting her and shooting up her home.
Officer statements attribute the following quotes to Poulos:
"If they defund us, the first person on my list is the mayor."
"If the mayor defunds the police, I'm going to shoot her. That's a promise."
"I'm going to her house to shoot it up."
"Someone's gotta do it."
Reports indicate the senior officer in the room even tried to redirect Poulos after his first comment. After his sergeant tried to tell him he wasn't going to shoot the mayor, Poulos re-affirmed his previous statement calling it "a promise."
"If the mayor defunds the police, I'm going to shoot her," a sergeant recalled hearing a Phoenix police officer say… https://t.co/B2rcRRoZbA— azcentral (@azcentral) 1609213170.0
Officer Steven Poulos has since brushed off criticism and claimed he was "just joking" when he made repeated threats against the mayor's life.
Poulos may have opted for the trite "just kidding" defense, but his department is not taking his "jokes" lightly. Department officials reported his conduct immediately and asked for a criminal investigation to be opened over the incident.
The investigation was conducted by the Tempe Police Department.
The officer was taken off patrol over the incident three months ago, but he is facing much harsher consequences than just being benched if charges are filed.
According to Tempe police reports, Poulos is being investigated for making terroristic threats and threatening/intimidating a person. The case was sent to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office for possible criminal charges.
Poulos, again, seemed unfazed.
"I don't know why they made a [big] deal about it, it was just a joke."
The mayor declined to comment except to say she was "awaiting the completion of the legal process."
The incident happened months ago, but the investigation hasn't made much headway despite multiple officers confirming the threats and Poulos' senior officer following protocol and reporting the threats immediately. It's possible the delay is because Poulos is a veteran officer due to retire in the next five years.
Records indicate he was already approved to retire within that timeframe before the incident. As such, there are very few disciplinary measures possible for the department to employ—aside from termination and/or loss of pension or benefits.
Confidence in the department is evidently quite low at the moment.
In an opinion piece published by azcentral and the Arizona Republic, columnist Elvia Diaz stated:
"If Steven Poulos is brave enough to threaten Phoenix's top leader, just imagine what cops like him say and do to powerless ordinary citizens?"
"The Phoenix cop who threatened to shoot Mayor Kate Gallego should never carry a badge again. But even if he's gone, his bravado and arrogant attitude toward the people he was sworn to protect is alarming."
From opinion columnist @elviadiaz1: "The Phoenix cop who threatened to shoot Mayor Kate Gallego should never carry… https://t.co/hhBYSVQruP— azcentral (@azcentral) 1609278624.0
Online, people shared her concerns.
@NialaCharles @12News what a nutbag. What the hell are they waiting for?— Dbistola (@Dbistola) 1609307058.0
@JuanSaaa LOCK HIM UP— Walter García (@Walter García) 1609305956.0
@Sifill_LDF You should check out the number of police involved shootings resulting in deaths in the Phoenix area. I… https://t.co/3G7QQvC5KP— ChicaLoca (@ChicaLoca) 1609308325.0
@Lusophonesbay @Sifill_LDF As if Arizona doesn’t have *multiple* examples of female politicians being shot/assaulte… https://t.co/7sFdDaj4Bs— Jacob Pomrenke (@Jacob Pomrenke) 1609307568.0
Officer Poulos out here really making the case that the Phoenix police is out of control. https://t.co/CDbEB4d2ww— Matt Ortega (@Matt Ortega) 1609305960.0
@andrewboxford @Taniel @ujohnnyg @JenAFifield Proving again it's exactly this kind of fascism that we want to defun… https://t.co/3xs7NCBojx— Fascism flattened, but never the webrant🕺------🕺 (@Fascism flattened, but never the webrant🕺------🕺) 1609270067.0
MAKE IT MAKE SENSE! WHY wasn't Officer Steven Poulos fired for allegedly saying he was going to shoot Phoenix… https://t.co/uku1lfRpvl— ReSista Kay🌊 (@ReSista Kay🌊) 1609273918.0
@Flutters225 @Prison_Health You would think 🙄— 🤍 (@🤍) 1609272777.0
@Prison_Health So, through all of this investigation, Officer Steven Poulos gets to collect his paycheck at home an… https://t.co/2IXGmpWQLq— 🤍 (@🤍) 1609269322.0
Interestingly, sources indicate mayor Kate Gallego voted to increase the police budget. Defunding the police—which is actually just redistributing police resources to agencies better equipped to handle non-violent crimes, not dismantling departments as many people incorrectly believe—was never on her agenda.
Officer Poulos' rage towards Mayor Gallego and the subsequent threats he made on her life, were entirely unfounded to begin with. This casts him as little more than an uninformed man with anger issues.
What makes Poulos different is he has had a badge, a gun and the qualified immunity that come along with being a police officer since 1998. It remains to be seen whether or not he will get to keep them.