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'He's back on the job, carrying a gun': Mesa officer still in uniform as he's investigated for assault, stalking

An advocate for women in policing says a Mesa officer being investigated for domestic violence against 4 female officers shouldn't still be on the job.
Credit: 12 News

MESA. Ariz. - A national advocate for women in policing is speaking out against the decision by the Mesa Police Department to bring an officer back on the job while he is the subject of an internal investigation.

As the 12 News I-Team first reported Thursday, Mesa K9 Officer Scott Callender is accused of assault and other troubling behavior involving four different female officers he had been romantically involved with over the course of more than two decades.

The criminal investigation for the most recent allegations recently wrapped up with no charges recommended against the officer. However, the Mesa detective who wrote the summary of the case concluded there was enough evidence to charge the officer at the time of the other alleged assaults and that the statute of limitations is now passed.

RELATED: 'She actually wished that he would pull the trigger': Mesa cop investigated for stalking, abusing female officers

"What does it say to women who are victims of police domestic violence that he's back on the job? He's back on the job, carrying a gun,” said Kathy Spillar, senior researcher with the National Center for Women and Policing.

Two police coworkers of a female Gilbert police officer told a detective in May that she confided in them that Callender broke two of her ribs during an argument in 2017, according to investigative records. The alleged victim declined to speak with investigators.

But that inquiry unearthed three other cases in which Mesa police officers also accused Callender of abuse while he was in relationships with them.

The allegations, dating back to 1996, include Callender pointing a service weapon at one woman, punching another woman in the mouth and side of the face with his fist and throwing a woman to the ground.

More than once, Callender threatened to shoot himself and about 13 years ago, Asst. Chief Dan Butler personally received a report of Officer Callender in a domestic dispute in which he allegedly threatened suicide. 

"The big red flag is this department has failed miserably to do the job of investigating this officer, maybe others, involved in domestic violence,” Spillar said.

According to a personnel file, In 2007, Callender was reassigned to the desk for several weeks.It's unclear why. He was disciplined three other times from 1996 to 2005 for various reasons including disrespecting an officer, but details of those cases are not available. The department tells 12 News they purged records of officers where state law allowed.

12 News asked Mesa Mayor John Giles about what he thinks about the officer’s current status. Mayor Giles said he is unable to comment because of the ongoing internal investigation. Police Chief Ramon Batista also declined to comment for this story.

A spokesperson for the department says Mesa police is taking the matter one step at a time.

"Certainly, we initiated the investigation when it was brought to our attention. However, after six weeks of the criminal investigation, we came to the conclusion…we could not move forward with probable cause for criminal charges,” said Mesa Police Commander Ed Wessing. “Although we made that determination, the case is still not closed. An internal investigation is ongoing."

For tips on this or any other story, contact the 12 News I-Team at iteam@12news.com or fill out the form below.