Accountability: This week I placed two of my command staff on paid administrative leave. The incidents are not related, however all staff and certainly command-level staff will be held accountable for their actions. I have made a commitment to run a transparent, professional and accountable organization.
Commander Joe McAuliffe has been placed on administrative leave pending the completion of an administrative review of the results of a POST audit and investigation regarding allegations of deception and failure to disclose pre-employment information.
Lieutenant Kaye Dickson has been placed on paid administrative leave after a complaint was filed involving allegations of possible criminal wrongdoing as well as internal policy violations. The complaint has been referred to the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office for investigation and recommendation. Further review of her employment status will be made following the completion of the investigation.
These leaders will be afforded due process just as every private citizen expects and deserves. I will weigh all the facts, once they are known, and make the right decision. No person is above the law and my staff is held to a higher standard of professionalism. I shall safeguard the sacred trust we hold with the public. PCSO has 700 full-time staff and a few shall not be allowed to tarnish the good reputation built by the men and women who serve our public with honor each and every day.
Towing Contract: There has never been a tow contract between the Sheriff’s Office and tow companies. Pinal Deputies request Dispatch to call local tow companies when there is a car accident, disabled motorist, abandoned vehicle, DUI arrest, impound for 30 days (for suspension or no insurance) or recovering a stolen vehicle. Like you, most Pinal motorist and tourists expect that since the Sheriff’s Office is calling a tow company on your behalf, then the tow company should be legitimate and charge fairly.
To the surprise of many motorists – this fair treatment and uniform pricing does not occur. I have many horror stories of price gouging, where our citizens are charged hundreds of dollars for simple tows, or hundreds in impound fees. Some cases where the vehicle title has already been transferred from the registered owner to the tow company.
We are now requiring standard pricing and uniform practices. We have requested proposals from tow companies that wish to participate. If a tow company wants to be on PCSO’s rotation tow list – they must comply with our standardized rules and pricing. This establishes allowable charges for motor vehicle tows and storage services.
This increases fairness, where all tow companies have a chance to bid and motorists get the best pricing in return. The contract allows PCSO to supervise tow and storage service, implements maximum rates and charges, while allowing tow companies to make a reasonable profit. A by-product will be improved, predictable response times to accidents or breakdowns on county roads.
Portable Radios: Deputies in many areas of Pinal County step out of their patrol vehicles and can’t communicate with Dispatch, due to poor signal from their portable radio. Deputies often pull their portable radio from their duty belt and raise it in the air with one hand (for better reception) and click on the talk button with their other hand. Deputies sarcastically refer to this as the Statue of Liberty pose. Imagine the safety concerns if a Deputy is out with a suspect or may even have their gun in one hand.
This poor radio reception occurs largely due to cheap $400 dollar construction grade portable radios. My new Grant Administrator Tim Gaffney has been awarded three grants, where PCSO will purchases as many as 81 Motorola XTS 3200 portable radios in September. These enhanced radios cost $3,200 each and will greatly improve communications, quicken emergency response and improve officer safety. Other grant sources should fund new portable radios for every Patrol Deputy by December 2009.
6 Deputy Recruits to attend SALETC in Tucson: We are still hiring for vacant positions for Deputy and Detention Officer. Our six Deputy recruits just started training at the Southern Arizona Law Enforcement Training Center (SALETC) located in Tucson. This is a live in academy, much like our local Police Academy at Central Arizona College (CAC) in Coolidge. I am committed to sending future Deputy Recruits to Central Arizona Regional Law Officers Training Academy (CARLOTA) with their next academy class starting September 13th.
Local law enforcement agencies need to step up to equally share the responsibility to train our future Peace Officers. Maricopa Police Department has stepped up and assigned a full-time Sergeant. I will select a quality PCSO Sergeant through a competitive process to be assigned to the academy for 1 year, starting in late August.
Every reform we are implementing is designed to enhance public safety and modernize the Sheriff’s Office in order to best protect Pinal Families. I am honored to serve as your Sheriff and I will be relentless in the pursuit of improved service through increased discipline, training and accountability.
Paul R. Babeu, Sheriff
Pinal County, Arizona