DPS in disarray?

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Claims of deception, discrimination, forgery and claims of top DPS officials getting a pass while rank-and-file officers are getting transferred and losing their jobs. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Claims of deception, discrimination, forgery and claims of top DPS officials getting a pass while rank-and-file officers are getting transferred and losing their jobs. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
On the heels of winning a lengthy whistle-blower claim, the Department of Public Safety is facing another retaliation complaint. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) On the heels of winning a lengthy whistle-blower claim, the Department of Public Safety is facing another retaliation complaint. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
3TV/CBS 5 talked with Jim Jertson, the now former employee, who just filed this discrimination/retaliation complaint with the EEOC and the state attorney general's office. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) 3TV/CBS 5 talked with Jim Jertson, the now former employee, who just filed this discrimination/retaliation complaint with the EEOC and the state attorney general's office. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

Claims of deception, discrimination, forgery and claims of top DPS officials getting a pass while rank-and-file officers are getting transferred and losing their jobs. On the heels of winning a lengthy whistle-blower claim, the Department of Public Safety is facing another retaliation complaint.

The DPS director finally responded to our repeated requests to talk about how we've been inundated with stories from law enforcement insiders of distrust, dysfunction and a disparity in discipline within the ranks of his department.

[RELATED: DPS report clears 2nd in command in fatal pursuit]

Col. Frank Milstead came by our 3TV/CBS 5 newsroom this week with his attorney to offer some context but would not go on camera.

We talked with Jim Jertson, the now former employee, who just filed this discrimination/retaliation complaint with the EEOC and the state attorney general's office.

He says he was so tormented by how he was treated at DPS, he had no choice but to walk away from his 18-year career.

Jertson said he felt "shocked, victimized, bullied, humiliated."

"It's horrible and it's frightening,” he said.

He had a near-perfect review record working as a civilian in the director's office in public affairs.

[RELATED: DPS investigating second-in-command for off-duty chase that turned deadly]

He says that changed after he reported his boss Capt. Damon Cecil for allegedly making discriminatory comments about a co-worker's religion.

“He leaned back in his chair, looked at this individual and said, 'well what would the Jehovah's Witness do in this situation? Would they sprinkle holy water on it?' And everyone, the looks on our faces were just, ‘you have got to be kidding me!'” Jertson said.

Eight months later, he said he got his first "below standards" review ever and very quickly, the job he loved, he loathed.

"I said, ‘Sir, I think that the reason that I got this negative evaluation was because you're retaliating against me for filing that religious complaint,'” Jertson recalled.

“Then he said, ‘If I wanted to retaliate against you, there are better ways to do it.'"

Cecil had to change Jertson’s review ratings back to "standard" only because he missed a management review deadline.

And Jertson signed off on it, assured the fine print hadn't changed.

But it had.

“He changed the word from I accomplished few of my assignments to none of my assignments," Jertson said.

“I got a sick feeling in my stomach and immediately called the department's attorney and said, 'I think we have a major integrity issue with the supervisor in the director’s office. There is no way this could have been a mistake,'" Jertson said.

Cecil said it was nothing more than a failed "save edit" when he clicked out of the review after hitting print.

Disappointed, Jertson dug a little deeper and asked to see the expectations memo his boss said he signed off on.

“This document was never presented to me. I never signed it.” Jertson said.

He insists, the signature is a forgery.

Cecil insists he saw Jertson sign it in his office with a blue pen.

Jertson's attorney, Tyler Allen, says felony allegations of deception in law enforcement cannot be ignored.

“This is something that needs to be looked at under the microscope,” Allen said.

The department sent it to the state crime lab.

The Forensic techs issued the following opinions:

“The questioned signature is probably NOT a genuine signature of Jimmy Jertson and appears to be one's attempt to simulate a genuine signature of Jimmy Jertson. While unlikely, the possibility that the questioned signature is an attempt by Jimmy Jertson to disguise his own signature cannot be excluded."

“This is an agency that is responsible for upholding the law,” Allen said.

So, what obligation does the state have to get to the bottom of who's lying?

The department said they exhausted all reasonable efforts.

Jertson and Allen disagree.

"This isn't just a simple misunderstanding. It's factually impossible for both these people to be telling the truth. So, as an I.A. investigator, they need to keep digging,” Allen said.

Jertson and Cecil both volunteered to take a polygraph.

The department declined since they're not admissible in court and says they went above and beyond, even running fingerprints on the document in question with no conclusive evidence.

Col. Milstead said Jertson even sent an email saying he was satisfied with the investigation: 

"Because the case involved me and a much higher ranking individual, 
I had a fear my testimony would be given less weight. 
I feel after reading the report that I was treated fairly and equally."

Jertson says while he satisfied with the investigation, he was never satisfied with the outcome.

He sent a generic blast email to all the news assignment desks in the Valley to share his story in March.

It landed on this reporter’s desk shortly thereafter, having recently covered a series of DPS investigations.

Having recognized the name as a former rental client from nearly a decade ago, we waited for the full investigative report to be released and interviewed Jertson on the day he filed his EEOC claim and submitted his resignation.

“They dismissed the entire report as an inquiry. No discipline was handed out and it was sent back to internal affairs case closed," Jertson said.

Former trooper Simon Wade was just fired for dishonesty after warning his superiors about life-death safety violations.

“There are some very fine officers at DPS and it's embarrassing what's going on,” Wade said.

He lost his appeal to the Law Enforcement Merit System Council or LEMSC and was denied whistle-blower protection by a second independent board, the State Personnel Board.

“These guys can literally do whatever they want,” Wade said.

Meantime, the department just cleared their second in command from any wrongdoing in this deadly pursuit in his personal truck, a violation of state law.

“Folks of a certain rank or lower would be fired for some of the stuff that our higher-ranking individuals are doing,” Jertson said.

It’s a claim troopers and higher command staff within DPS have made, along with other local current and former law enforcement officers, prosecutors and trainers in the expert witness accident reconstruction, and pursuit review realm.

During a meeting this week at 3TV, with his lawyer present, Col. Milstead said that's just not true and had another trooper been in the exact situation as the pursuit for example, they would have been cleared just the same.

Jertson says this isn't about just one bad review, it's the principle of refusing to ignore even the smallest improprieties.

“It is an environment where you're encouraged not to speak up when you see something improper or illegal or against policy,” Jertson said.

Col. Milstead did not want to go on camera claiming it would further incite the situation.

We’ve since learned Jertson is being investigated for sending threatening emails to DPS as recently as two days ago.

When asked about the threats, Jertson says this situation drove him to have a breakdown, act out of character and ultimately resign.

Col. Milstead's team said they would be willing to perhaps sit down at a later time to address more of the big picture claims and concerns we've been hearing about the ongoing fear of retaliation for speaking out at DPS.

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