Multiple female Mesa officers say officials failed to adequately discipline Officer Jeffrey Neese for sexual harassment. They intend to file a lawsuit demanding $1 million from the city and Police Department.

According to a notice of claim, Neese repeatedly sent the women graphic sexual text messages and explicit sketches, and subjected them to predatory behavior. 

Despite the numerous accounts of sexual harassment, the women claim, Mesa failed them by inadequately disciplining Neese. 

“What this guy did was criminal behavior and for the city to keep him after all of that is disturbing,” Officer Elisha Gibbs, one of the victims, told The Arizona Republic. 

Ultimately, Neese kept his job and was demoted to a patrol officer following a review. Neese can still come into contact with the victims and members of the public in that role. 

“By having Officer Neese back in a patrol car and on the streets, the City of Mesa has failed to protect Claimants and the general public,” the notice of claim detailed. “Officer Neese has unequivocally demonstrated that he is unable or unwilling to control his sexual harassment of his fellow female police officers or even the general public.”

A spokesman for the city said they are aware of the allegations, but cannot comment on the matter or Neese’s specific discipline due to possible pending litigation. 

Neese’s attorney did not respond to a request from The Republic for comment. 

Neese will be eligible for promotion in a few years, meaning he could return to the same position he was demoted from.

“Who protects the police officers when officers cross the line?” Officer Amanda Cook, one of the claimants, said during a press conference. 

The group, which included six women and a male officer who said Neese harassed his wife, asked the city for $150,000 per claimant — a total of more than $1 million — to settle the case. 

Neese sent graphic text messages

Arizona POST records show Neese first joined Mesa police in 1999. He eventually rose to the role of sergeant over the SWAT team and also served as an instructor at the police academy. 

According to the notice of claim, the earliest known instance of sexual harassment occurred in 2014 and continued until the women reported his behavior in August 2018.

Neese graphically described masturbating to memories of interactions with the women and fantasies involving them in text messages, according to the notice of claim.

“I did really think about you guys three times though. I made a mess!” Neese wrote in one text message to Gibbs.

“I’m currently doing things to the thought of you right now,” he texted to Cook. He included emojis to indicate masturbation in a subsequent text message. 

Cindy Martinez also recalled Neese sending her an inappropriate text message after he gave her a ride home. She had just graduated from the police academy at the time. 

“I wish you would have invited me inside because I wanted a little more,” Neece texted her, according to the notice of claim. 

Text messages included in the notice of claim show Neese would often follow up the initial text message by questioning whether he “said too much” or “crossed the line.”

Neese also drew a photo of Gibbs, her wife and another woman naked without their consent and sent it to them. He initially asked for a photo of them because he wanted to draw them as superheros. 

Human resource documents detailing the city’s investigation into the complaints show Neese claimed he had no knowledge of the text messages or that the women made them up. 

Reach public safety reporter Bree Burkitt at [email protected] or at 602-444-8515. Follow her on Twitter at @breeburkitt.

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