SANTA FE (KRQE) - State officials didn't ask the right questions when they recently hired a juvenile probation officer who'd been accused of ignoring and falsifying cases at an Arizona police department.
"There probably would have been a lengthy discussion about" the reasons behind Latroy Campbell's resignation from the Goodyear Police Department if the New Mexico interviwer had asked about it, said Sandra Stewart, juvenile justice director at the state Children, Youth and Families Department.
But the question was never asked, she said.
Officials also could have found out about Campbell's history with a simple Internet search. News 13 discovered several media reports about the Goodyear case within seconds.
However, Campbell was hired at the juvenile probation office in Santa Fe in January – meaning it took the state six months to find out the same information.
"He filled out the application thoroughly, he was interviewed thoroughly, his references were checked," Stewart said. "(A) Google search is not part of our process."
Campbell worked as an officer, detective then a sergeant at the Goodyear Police Department, located just west of Phoenix. An internal investigation at the department in 2010 found that Campbell falsified police reports and closed criminal cases – including some involving sex crimes against children – with little to no investigation, according to documents from the police department.
He told Arizona investigators at the time he was overworked and that his supervisors gave him no help.
The Arizona equivalent to New Mexico's Law Enforcement Academy Board was looking into revoking Campbell's police certification. However, he gave that up voluntarily. He also resigned from the Goodyear Police Department in 2010 while he was still under investigation.
In an email to News 13 this week, he said he resigned from that department to take another job due to family issues and that many allegations made in the internal investigation were untrue.
Stewart said she couldn't say if knowing Campbell's full work history would have affected his hiring in New Mexico. But she did say that someone should have asked him about his resignation from Goodyear.
However, that's a moot point now. The state fired Campbell last week, Stewart said, adding that she also couldn't say whether the resignation issue led to the firing.
"That is a personnel matter and I'm sorry I can't discuss that," she said.
Campbell also declined to say why he was fired, but said it had nothing to do with what happened in Goodyear.
Steward also refused to say whether the CYFD's experience with Campbell would change its hiring practices.
"Certainly I think our extensive process is superior to just doing a Google search," Stewart said.
But state Sen. Bill O'Neill, D-Alb., said the department should learn from its experience with Campbell.
"It's just essential that CYFD does their homework," he said. "These folks have a lot of responsibility and the kids they're working with are extremely vulnerable."
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