A Night In The Life Of The Payson Police


Public service, rather than crime, is the focus of a typical swing shift for Payson Police Officer Mike Varga.

On Friday, this Payson Roundup reporter joined Varga on what was an extremely busy night.


On Saturday morning after his shift, Payson Police Officer Mike Varga completes his paperwork for the evening at the station.

On Fridays in Payson, there are only two patrol officers for duty on the swing shift. Most of the calls Varga fielded were not for crimes -- he answered calls about barking dog, tripped burglar alarm and complaints of noisy neighbors.

When there was a break between calls, Varga patrolled the streets.

"My problem is I don't have a lot of time to do a lot of traffic stops," he said as he took call after call.

The radio came to life and he was asked to respond to an unwanted adult grandchild living at a home, then a call about a runaway and a report of a person firing a gun in his back yard.

The call about the man discharging a firearm in his yard was actually a person playing with caps.

"It's a typical day, especially for the summer," he said. "It's a hit and miss on what days are busy."

His two major calls Friday were a DUI accident at about 6 p.m. and a warrant arrest of a woman who was wanted on forgery charges.

He said the runaway was a common occurrence, adding that he had been out to the same home numerous times.

On the first barking dog complaint call, Varga said it would not be the last call of this nature. Two dogs behind a fence, after hearing Varga approach, started barking and wouldn't stop. No one was home.

"You can't make the dog shut up," he said. He added that he had been out to this home before on a barking dog complaint and was going to forward the complaint to the animal control officer.

Another barking dog complaint that night resulted in going out to the location, where no dog could be heard.

Varga said he does not see a lot of crime in Payson, and Friday was a pretty typical night for him.

"It's just normal life for me," he said as he responded to a call about a woman who wanted her grandchildren to leave her home. "A lot of calls we go to are public service for citizens."

Varga drove through Rumsey Park where several people were playing basketball. He said he just wanted them to see him drive through.

The only arrest that he made Friday night was a woman in her early 40s on warrant charges.

Varga said he knew the woman from his days as a probation officer.

The woman sat in the back of the police car repeating, "A cup of java sure would be nice." Varga said she was typical of what happens to a person who becomes addicted to methamphetamines.

Once the graveyard officers came on, Varga was able to patrol the fourth quadrant, which includes the north side of the town, as well as checking drivers for speed on Highway 260.

Parked near the Rim Golf Club, where the posted speed limit is 55 mph, Varga was clocking the majority of drivers in the low 60s. He said he usually gives a driver a 10-mph grace limit.

After about 15 minutes, a Scottsdale driver drove by at a speed of 76 to 77 mph.

Varga said he does not pull many local residents over for speeding, partly because they know where officers park to look for speeders.

On a typical night, the Payson police officer will put about 100 miles on his patrol car. He added that he tries to drive by neighborhoods two to three times a night, but his route is dictated by the number of service calls he receives.

Varga's Friday swing shift, which ran from 4:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. ends with paperwork.

-- To reach Michael Maresh call 474-5251 ext. 112 or e-mail mmaresh@payson.com.

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