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DIGGING DEEPER: Whistleblower Fallout – UPDATE

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TUCSON - Recent action taken by the Pima County Merit System Commission is coming under fire by County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry.

A four-page memo and 17 separate emails were sent to commission members three weeks ago.

It details several points regarding their decision regarding Lt. Joe Cameron, who had his suspension for unprofessional conduct overturned by the Merit System Commission.

The commission said he was targeted and bullied by some members of the Pima County Sheriff's Department command staff. The commission also claimed they were lied to by the sheriff and his commanders.

Huckelberry detailed four points in his memo to commission members.

The first point is that Cameron has a long history of disciplinary actions with PCSD.

The county administrator wrote in part, given Cameron's discipline and record of conduct, Huckelberry believed Cameron targeted himself and dared the department to discipline him.

Huckelberry's memo also said Cameron attempted to influence an independent investigation into bullying complaints against the sheriff.

The county administrator included complaints from five commanders to include Cameron, who together totaled 113 allegations against the sheriff and members of his command staff.

An independent investigator looked into this. Huckelberry claimed the investigator was bombarded with emails from the complainants in an effort to bias his report.

It's an investigation that, according to Huckelberry, began in April 2018.

The report is complete, and is currently being reviewed by Huckelberry and the human resources director.

Huckelberry's memo goes on to say that Cameron is attempting to cast the PCSD in a poor light.

Huckelberry wrote that after reviewing communication emails, a case could be made the complaints against the investigator are actually bullying. He also claimed the complainants have influenced and manipulated the media by casting management of the sheriff's department in an "unfavorable light."

The memo also says that claims that Chief Karl Woolridge evaded testifying are unfounded. It goes on to say that accusing Chief Wooldridge of ducking testimony before the council while he is on medical leave is a "cheap shot" and "unfounded by facts."

The memo has appeared on the Pima County Sheriff's Facebook page. It has received numerous comments and has been shared several times.

Lt. Gerard Moretz, chairman of the Pima County Sheriff's Commanders Association, wrote a letter and asked Sheriff Mark Napier to remove Huckelberry's memo from Facebook. The letter contradicted all of the points made by Huckelberry. Moretz also mentioned the department's social media policy prohibits posts such as this one.

News 4 Tucson contacted Mike Hellon, chairman of the Pima County Merit System Commission.

He told us they will be discussing Huckelberry's memo at their March 18 meeting.

News 4 Tucson also contacted the County Administrator, but he told us he is not doing any interviews on this topic.

Lupita Murillo

Lupita Murillo is an investigative reporter. She is part of the Digging Deeper team that uncovers important issues focusing on crime that affects the community.

Paul Birmingham

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