Sedona Police Chief accused of creating hostile workplace

Sedona Police Chief Stephanie Foley was promoted to be the city’s top cop nearly two years ago. She’s been with the department for her entire law enforcement career of 17 years.

A statue outside the department was modeled after Foley and a K-9 before she became chief.

But now, multiple employees have raised concerns about working under Foley’s leadership. Two of them are Sergeant Laura Leon and Deputy Chief Ryan Kwitkin.

Sedona is a well-known travel destination with three million tourists a year, and the population is around 10,000. The police department is small, with 30 sworn officers and 20 volunteers.

Back in March, a letter to the city of Sedona from a law firm representing Kwitkin and Leon accused the chief of creating a hostile work environment.

The complaints describe Foley’s alleged "belittling and disruptive behavior against department employees", a culture that is "objectively and subjectively hostile", going on to say she responds to questions unprofessionally with sometimes "inappropriate, unwarranted anger."

The chief has also been accused of directing subordinates to "surreptitiously record others."

Sedona Police Chief Stephanie Foley

Leon has been with the department since 2018. She was interviewed by FOX 10 two years ago for an unrelated story. Documents say when she brought up concerns about the chief, she became "the object of investigation."

Kwitkin was hired by Chief Foley in May 2023 after he retired as a lieutenant at Boca Raton PD in Florida.

Kwitkin’s claim is that Foley "lost her temper" when he asked another employee to help him deliver water and a podium for a department holiday party. Foley allegedly called the request for help "insubordination."

With his probationary period ending, and an above-average review after six months of work, the chief wanted to do a 360 evaluation of Kwitkin and extend probation, so he could work on "communication skills," according to his former lawyer in a letter to the city in April.

One Sedona PD employee who wants to remain anonymous tells FOX 10 that Chief Foley is divisive, manipulative, and retaliates by writing staff members up. The source also says policies are outdated and not in best practice.

As FOX 10 was in Sedona reporting on this story, Chief Foley walked by. Investigator Justin Lum asked if she wanted to talk.

She was on the phone and said "no" and kept walking back to the department's headquarters.

Due to employee complaints, the city of Sedona hired Revolutionary HR Consulting to investigate Foley. The probe was completed in May, but all eight allegations against the chief were unsubstantiated.

That same day, Deputy Chief Kwitkin was put on administrative leave as part of a sub-investigation. 

But why was the chief never placed on leave, like Kwitkin or the city’s former finance director, Cherie White, following internal investigations?

Letters on behalf of Leon and Kwitkin say Chief Foley’s executive assistant raised the same concerns about the culture.

It’s also alleged that the city of Sedona has discouraged other employees from coming forward and people fear for their jobs if they speak out.

A statement from Chief Foley reads, "My focus has always been and will continue to be on safeguarding my community and leading my staff with the utmost integrity. As the report states, the allegations against me were unfounded. I want to thank the men and women of the Sedona Police Department for their professionalism and dedication to serving the community. I have a renewed focus on our core tenant here at the Sedona Police Department, which is to selflessly serve all our residents to maintain public order, prevent and suppress crime, and be responsive to needs within the community."

A statement from City Manager Anette Spickard says, "After a thorough, multi-month investigation, we are absolutely confident in Chief Foley’s ability to lead the Sedona Police Department and continue her focus on serving her community."

The full findings of the investigation into Foley are not public yet as the investigation of Kwitkin continues.

Documents related to this report: