Candidates Hope To Lead County Law Enforcement

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John Armer, the Democratic incumbent for Gila County sheriff, said he has kept the promises he made to residents four years ago.

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John Armer

When Armer took office in January of 2001, he had inherited a jail that was declared sub-standard and on the verge of being taken over by the Department of Justice.

"They stepped in and said there were things that needed to be fixed," Armer said. "It wasn't a pleasant thing because they are not concerned about the tax base and cost -- they just want it fixed."

Armer averted the takeover and made the required changes, bringing the jail up to standard.

Being sheriff of a county that spans more than 7,400 square miles can be a challenge, Armer said, especially since less than 4 percent of the land is privately owned.

"The taxpayers support county-wide government," Armer said. "You have to be sensitive to the effect of increased property taxes on property owners."

Yet, Armer said public safety is priority and has lobbied the board of supervisors and explored other funding options to get additional deputies and resources for his office.

Armer spent 21 years with the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office and five years as the Globe police chief before being elected sheriff of Gila County.

He and his wife, Claudia Sue, have owned the family homestead south of Young since 1969.

Armer said he has instituted programs to assist the vulnerable populations in the county -- children and the elderly and has been able to strengthen the drug interdiction effort by getting funds from the federal government.

"I feel very strongly that drugs and substance abuse is at the root of nearly everything we deal with," Armer said. "Since January of this year, our (Gila County Narcotics) task force has taken over 1,000 pounds of marijuana off the street."

Armer said he is most proud of the way he has created a cohesive sheriff's office that has formed a good relationship with the community.

"I am proud of the way I have pulled this sheriff's office together to work as a team and form a strong partnership with the community," Armer said. "We go to great strides to make sure that our employees are professional and helpful -- I would be willing to say that people have seen a difference."

Kim Pound, one of the Republican candidates for Gila County Sheriff, currently serves as a lieutenant in the Salt River Police Department but lives in Payson.

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Kim Pound

In his lengthy career with the Salt River Police Department, Pound has been commander of every division in the department -- field operations, criminal investigations and now the professional standards committee.

High standards are what Pound says he is about.

"A sheriff's office should be as professional and well-organized as police departments," Pound said. "In order to provide good service, the people within the office need to know what their job responsibilities are."

Pound said as sheriff he will expect a lot from his employees, but will also give a lot.

"In order to provide good service to the community, deputies need to be vested," Pound said. "They need their pay and benefits raised. We don't want to be a training ground for other agencies. We don't want to lose seasoned officers because they are going someplace else to get more money."

Pound's plan as sheriff is also to create a Citizen's Advisory Board so residents can give feedback on what services they need.

"I have a community policing philosophy," Pound said. "Officers need to have people skills."

Pound is a vocal proponent of restructuring the Gila County Narcotics Task Force, currently comprised of deputies from the sheriff's office and officers from the Department of Public Safety.

"It is not a task force right now. How can you call it a task force?" Pound said. "Let's get all the local agencies involved."

Building good relations with not only the community, but other law enforcement agencies is part of Pound's goal as sheriff.

"I want to work with all the chiefs of police," Pound said. "I don't want to be the chief law enforcement agent in the county -- I want to be the chief law enforcement coordinator. We need to work together and check our egos at the door."

Pound says as sheriff, residents will know who he is.

"I'm not going to plant myself in Globe or Payson," Pound said. "I will be accessible -- I want people to know who their sheriff is."

The candidate below was defeated in the primary election.

Richard Shaw, also a Republican candidate for Gila County Sheriff, transferred to the Globe Police Department after serving 12 years as a Gila County Sheriff's deputy. One of Shaw's goals is to improve training within the sheriff's office.

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Richard Shaw

"Training should be conducted on a daily basis," Shaw said. "Special attention should be paid to perishable skills such as driving, defensive tactics and firearms -- areas critical to personnel retention and preventing law suits."

Shaw said he wants to make some changes for employees of the sheriff's office.

"What I want to see out of the sheriff's department is fair and equal promotion standards for all its employees," Shaw said. "I would like to look at a shift differential in pay for deputies -- you get paid a little extra money for swings and graves. This would amount to pennies on the dollar for taxpayers."

Shaw feels strongly that prisoners at the Gila County jail should be working.

"Prisoners should not be sitting in the jail watching TV, reading paperback books and receiving free medical care while the law abiding residents of Gila County pay for it," Shaw said. "Those housed in the jail should perform work details."

Shaw said he would like to see interagency cooperation in the common goal of fighting crime, including addressing the drug problem.

"Many of our crimes stem from substance abuse," Shaw said. "The answer to this is in three parts -- business, good law enforcement and establishing drug rehabilitation programs for those needing our help. Business brings jobs and much needed tax dollars, which provide for drug rehabilitation and other programs for those who want to get off drugs."

Shaw said he believes in a clean campaign and sees himself not as a politician, but a working guy who cares about Gila County.

"I am merely an honest police officer wanting to enforce the law," Shaw said.

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