MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- A retired Mesa Police detective says she was forced to leave the department because of toxic leadership. Vicki Hixson blames Chief Ramon Batista, who resigned last week, but she says he was only part of the problem.
Hixson retired last year after serving 21 years with Mesa Police, where she led a team connecting officers with mental health resources to ensure they were fit to serve.
“Bringing them back so they are productive and they are healthy,” says Hixson. “The workload was definitely not segregated correctly.”
Hixson says then Commander Lee Rankin mismanaged her team and treated her differently because she was a woman.
“Commander Rankin had made statements that I was too emotional,” says Hixson.
She complained to the City’s human resources in 2017 and filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint. HR determined Rankin’s behavior was not workplace discrimination but noted some witnesses found his management style “abrasive” and “borderline unprofessional.”
So, Hixson decided to go to Batista.
“He was very understanding,” says Hixson. “He said he would take it seriously.”
She says Batista instructed her to write a memo describing her concerns. Hixson cited department policies she claims Rankin violated, and she requested an internal investigation from an outside agency. But in early 2018 she received a memo from Batista denying her request.
“Betrayed, honestly,” says Hixson on how she felt. “At that point, I realized that things had changed.”
Months later, according to an email provided by Hixson, Batista promoted Rankin, who continued to oversee her assignments even though Hixson’s EEOC complaint had not been resolved. Shortly after that, she decided to leave.
Hixson says she’s relieved Batista quit but says more needs to be done to clean up the toxic leadership.
“There are additional females. Some in higher leadership positions than me, who have HR complaints and EEOC complaints not just against Batista but also Rankin for the same type of behavior,” says Hixson.
Arizona’s Family requested comment from the City of Mesa as well as information about complaints against the leadership. There was no response.
Hixson is now working for another law enforcement agency. She says she is confident in Interim Police Chief Ken Cost but says conditions for officers will not improve until leaders listen to their concerns.