When considering who to elect to be Gila County Sheriff, it may help to understand the requirements of the position.
State Law (ARS 11.441) states that the sheriff shall provide deputies to the Superior Courts, serve criminal and civil process from the Superior Courts, be responsible for search and rescue operations (such as locating missing hikers) and the preservation of the peace within the county they serve. Although obliged by this statute to arrest those who breach the peace, he is not required to provide deputies to patrol, to enforce traffic laws or investigate crimes.
The biggest responsibility, which takes up to two-thirds of the sheriff's budget, is the running of the county jails. Other statutes require the sheriff to be responsible and accountable for money spent to purchase everything from patrol cars to toilet paper for jail inmates. These statutes are collectively referred to as the procurement code.
Recently, I read an ad for Kim Pound, challenger to incumbent Sheriff John Armer.
Nowhere in his ad listing his qualifications does Mr. Pound list experience in coordination of resources required for massive search and rescue operations, the administrative experience dealing with procurement issues or the running of a jail system. Although both candidates have impressive backgrounds as police officers, the job of sheriff is much, much more than being a good cop.
I have read letters of endorsement for both candidates from places such as Apache Junction, Tempe and Mesa. Although these have come from law enforcement professionals, they don't live here. Since my retirement from the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, I have lived full time in Gila County. As a citizen with a taxpayer's stake in the running of the sheriff's office and how my money is spent, I find the qualifications of Sheriff Armer to overwhelmingly weigh in his favor. Past dealings with him on matters ranging from an escaped felon to training issues affecting agencies around the state, John Armer has always been thoughtful, helpful and knowledgeable.
While I congratulate Mr. Pound on his qualifications as a good cop, I encourage your readers to join me, my family, and my neighbors in voting to re-elect Sheriff Armer.
Lieutenant Mike Igielski (retired), MCSO, Payson