Blogger claims police search of home was a threat:
Police officers accused of drunken driving. A female officer’s alleged promiscuity and infidelity. A commander whose critics labeled his son a child molester.
Jeff Pataky said he uses negative complaints and anonymous tips to fuel his blogging crusade against Phoenix police. A headline on his Web site suggests rewards would be provided for “dirt” on police indiscretions.
Pataky, a former software sales and marketing executive who now focuses his energy shoveling content on www.badphoenixcops.com, said he believes his online criticism of the department – along with past criticisms of police investigations – led officers to serve a search warrant at his home last week.
Police officials said Wednesday that a Phoenix detective prompted the investigation after complaining about harassment, though they declined further comment.
Pataky said he felt the investigation was a response to a lawsuit he filed on Monday in U.S. District Court saying he was maliciously prosecuted by police in 2007 after his ex-wife accused him of harassment, a case later dropped. In his lawsuit he’s asking for an unspecified amount for damages. City officials declined to comment on pending litigation.
Pataky’s blog is known in law-enforcement circles for its off-color language that, according to the blogger, is aimed at Phoenix Police Chief Jack Harris, Maricopa County Andrew Thomas and other public officials.
“Too bad. They need to get over it,” Pataky said. “They are held to a higher accountability.”
Pataky said he edits the blog and works with four or five people who receive tips from a variety of sources, including sworn and retired officers.
Investigators confiscated computer material and other items from Pataky’s north Phoenix home, which he considered a threat to quit writing.
“We have heard internally from our police sources that they purposefully did this to stop me,” Pataky said. “They took my cable modem and wireless router. Anyone worth their salt knows nothing is stored in the cable modem.”
Phoenix Assistant Chief Andy Anderson said the harassment case is unique because of the connection to an unaccredited grassroots Web site. He said the blog is one part of the case, though he did not provide specifics of the ongoing investigation.
“This isn’t about the blog,” Anderson said. “That’s just where the investigation led.”
Police also served a separate search warrant at the home of former homicide Detective David Barnes, one of the investigators on the “Baseline Rapist” case.
Barnes was demoted from the homicide unit to patrol after he went public one year ago with claims of mismanaged evidence at the city’s crime lab.
Mark Spencer, president of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, said he was concerned about questionable probable cause to enter Barnes’ house. The union, which claims no affiliation with Pataky’s blog, will represent Barnes through the internal investigation.