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Arizona child welfare chief: 'I did nothing wrong'

New Department of Child Safety Director Greg McKay made his name as the whistleblower who uncovered thousands of uninvestigated child abuse and neglect reports at the old CPS. Then someone blew the whistle on McKay.
Greg McKay is Arizona's new director of child safety.

New Department of Child Safety Director Greg McKay made his name as the whistleblower who uncovered thousands of uninvestigated child abuse and neglect reports at the old CPS. Then someone blew the whistle on McKay.

"I did nothing wrong, and the world will see there's nothing to hide," Greg McKay said Friday during a 30-minute interview at DCS offices.

The interview came at the end of a tumultuous week:

DCS confirmed that McKay and others were investigated last year by the agency's internal affairs unit.

McKay disbanded the IA unit that had investigated him, saying the agency could better spend the money on protecting children.

The bitter feud between McKay and now-fired director Charles Flanagan became public with the disclosure of several emails.

"I remember there were complaints about management staff and me in reference to the way the overall operation was being run," McKay said of the investigation.

"There was a lot of growing pains there," he added.

The now-retired Phoenix police detective was running the new Office of Child Welfare Investigations after DCS was created. "We were trying to create something from ground zero."

A DCS spokesman provided one page from the investigative report. It lists several allegations — a few against McKay — and indicates none were substantiated.

12 News has requested the full report. McKay said the agency was weighing how much of the report could be released while maintaining confidentiality for employees who were cleared.

McKay denied he shut down the internal affairs unit as retribution.

"Why would I? They absolutely, fairly vindicated me from every allegation," he said

McKay said Flanagan ordered the investigation last July. Flanagan confirmed that in an interview.

But in his first day as director, McKay implied to DCS employees that Flanagan had allowed illegal activity.

"Did we see this mission through the same lens? Probably, possibly no," McKay said Friday. But he added: "I am absolutely not accusing my predecessor of breaking laws. I'm not."

McKay said his mission is getting employees away from their desks and getting eyes on every child. He said Flanagan didn't do that, letting employees sift through paperwork to clear cases.

"If we have 115 people that we're willing to pay overtime and they're willing to accept overtime or stipends, guess what? That money is tied to going out and seeing children in their homes or in their schools," McKay said.

The 20-year veteran of the Phoenix Police Department describes himself a a "grunt" who's never led an organization.

"I do think the staff trusts me," he said. "I bring a background of doing."

Flanagan was scorching in his response to McKay's comments.

"I stand on my record. I'm proud of my record," said Flanagan, who was named by former Gov. Jan Brewer in 2013 to take over the then-Child Protective Services after the disclosure of thousands of uninvestigated child abuse and neglect reports.

McKay "only cast stones after the fact," Flanagan said. "We put eyes on children we assessed. You can't close cases without putting eyes on children."

McKay does acknowledge that things will get worse at DCS before they get better.

Follow Brahm on Twitter @brahmresnik.