Badges Have Their Benefits

AROUND THE RIM COUNTRY

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I agree with the town's legal department -- this whole issue of town councilors flashing their badges is much ado about nothing.

In fact, I think their use should be expanded. But before I tell you where I'm coming from, allow me to offer a brief primer on the history of badges in the modern world.

There are real badges that police officers wear to identify themselves in the conduct of their duties. There are also plastic badges that can be bought in toy stores or sometimes found in cereal boxes that children use to play cops and robbers.

If you live in most places, that's all you need to know about badges, but in Payson it's also good to remember that badges are given to members of the town council. This practice would probably be harmless enough, except that every once in a while an errant badge gets flashed by a town councilor.

If the badges issued to town councilors were the cheap plastic kind found in cereal boxes, this would be no problem. When a councilor flashed his badge in a bar or at a motorist, everyone would have a good laugh and that would be the end of it.

But the badges issued to town councilors are real. In fact, they're actually police badges that have been altered to say "Town Council" instead of "Police."

So when a town councilor decides to flash his badge, it can end up scaring the bejeebers out of the person on the receiving end.

Fortunately, the town attorney's office got an impartial outside opinion on badge flashing by town councilors. According to the Peoria attorney's office, the practice is OK and does not constitute a criminal act -- at least when the councilor is trying to get somebody to turn off the freaking turn signal that's been blinking ever since he left the Valley.

This being the case, we thought it might be fun to come up with some new ways that councilors could have a good time flashing their badges, while, at the same time, providing a number of valuable services to the community. Here's a few for starters:

  • Have town councilors take turns being the official Wal-Mart greeter. As each customer comes in, the councilor would flash his badge and say, "On behalf of the Payson Town Council, welcome to Wal-Mart -- and remember to mind your manners."
  • You know those water vending machines around town. How about stationing a town councilor at each one. As a customer approaches the machine, plastic jugs and quarters in hand, the councilor flashes his badge and says, "On behalf of the Payson Town Council, welcome to this water vending machine. We're in a drought, so don't slop any water or I'll have to run you in."
  • Nothing ticks me off like people who don't follow the rules of the road with their shopping carts. How about having our town councilors go undercover and patrol our supermarkets. When a councilor catches an unsuspecting old lady blocking the aisle, the councilor flashes his badge and says, "Ma'am, you're in violation of (mumble here, because people have the constitutional right to drive shopping carts like idiots). And have a sample of our chocolate chip cookies made fresh daily right here in our very own bakery."
  • Here's a way our town council can use their badges to help us beautify the community. Each time a councilor sees a Rim country resident wearing a Payson Concrete & Materials ball cap, he or she flashes the badge and says, "Excuse me, sir, but you are in violation of the fundamental laws of good taste."
  • When goats are reintroduced into the Tonto National Forest later this year, they will be accompanied by goat herders. Are you thinking what I'm thinking? What a great job for town councilors armed with their badges. I can hear them now: "OK, you goats, move on. We have laws against loitering in these parts."
  • Tyler Parkway residents just hate it when people try to go fast on the world's slowest parkway. Why not station town councilors along the road to flash their badges at motorists who are exceeding the speed limit. It would sure get my attention.
  • And last, but certainly not least, I say we strip annex Pete's Place (no pun intended) and station town councilors out there with their badges to control the activities therein. Here's how it might go: "Excuse me, ma'am, but we have laws against false advertising. I'm going to have to take you in."

It's enough to make a guy eat more cereal in hopes of finding a badge of his own.

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