County Doubles Payson Detective Unit

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A Gila County Sheriff's deputy who once helped nab a gunman planning to rob the Payson grocery store where the deputy's wife worked, has been promoted to detective.

Brian Havey, a Gila County deputy since 1990, is now one of two full-time detectives on staff at the Payson substation. The other is George Ratliff.

Although both detectives are stationed in Payson, they can, as a members of the newly-formed Gila County Detective Task Force, be called upon to investigate felonies throughout the county.

Havey's goal in his new job, he said, is to work hard and be fair with everyone whether they're "bad guys or good guys."

During his first five years as a deputy, he was stationed at Roosevelt Lake. In 1995, he transferred to Payson.

His 10-year law enforcement career in both areas, he said, has been both lively and challenging.

His most memorable arrest occurred several years ago when he stopped the driver of a car who was drag racing on a residential street.

Havey found a large amount of cash stored in the vehicle, and discovered during a follow-up investigation that the money had been stolen during two Safeway store robberies in the Valley.

The driver was a suspected accomplice in the robberies, he said. The man he was drag racing with turned out to be the man who committed the crimes.

Havey wasn't able to stop the car the robber was driving, but he later learned the man was living in Payson and planning to rob the Safeway where Havey's wife, Patrice, worked.

Law officers caught the robber before he committed any other crimes, and both criminals are now serving time in the state prison, Havey said.

Since that incident, Havey has stored a dog-eared Polaroid picture of the two criminals inside the sun visor of his law-enforcement car. Police recovered the picture, which depicts the robber and his friend rolling marijuana into $20 bills and smoking it, from the criminals during the investigation.

"I guess that's why they were running out of money," Havey said.

Another notable incident in Havey's career happened in December 1994 when he was struck by a car after stopping to help a motorist involved in a deer/vehicle accident.

According to newspaper reports, Havey and deputy Jeff Downey were engaged in a motorist assist on Highway 188 when a 1962 GMC pickup driven by a Tonto Basin resident struck both officers and the motorist. The impact threw all three to the side of the road, injuring Havey's lower body.

Both officers were air-evacuated to Scottsdale-Memorial Osborne Hospital where Havey was treated and listed in serious condition.

After an extensive rehabilitation period, he returned to his deputy duties full-time.

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