Entire Public Safety Task Force Resigns

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The entire Mayor's Public Safety Task Force resigned after seeing an advertisement for the Payson police chief position.

Task Force Chairman Jim Hinton said the volunteer members spent eight months examining issues in the Payson Police Department. Their priority was to determine who should replace retiring chief, Gordon Gartner.

"After much looking and discussion, we felt Don (Engler) was the best (choice)," Hinton said.

The task force was asked by Mayor Bob Edwards to present its findings to the town council on March 15, Hinton said.

Task force member Ross Skinner presented the findings to the council. The task force recommended that the town hire Engler without advertising for other police chief candidates.

Later, task force members discovered that the first advertisement for a new police chief had already appeared -- three days before Skinner's presentation.

Those eight months of volunteer effort felt wasted, Hinton said. "We thought we should have been notified."

Hinton said the task force looked at every aspect concerning Engler, currently the Payson Police Commander, before making its recommendation to the council.

He believes there may be a few council members who do not like how the police department is currently being run, and may think nothing would change with an in-house candidate.

"Don's his own man," he said, adding that the task force should have been able to speak to the council before the advertisements were placed.

"It kind of disgruntled a lot of task force members," he said.

The task force submitted a survey to police department employees, and 37 of the 42 surveys said the new police chief should be hired in-house.

While the question was not asked, some employees said Engler was the best candidate.

Hinton said the task force resigned in objection to the lack of communication between the town and council.

"Why do a lot of work, if it is just going to be dismissed?" he asked.

Edwards said he was unaware that all of the members of this task force had resigned.

"I did not realize they all resigned. That is their choice, not mine," he said. Edwards hopes the task force would give him the work they did over the past eight months. "I am sure (their) recommendation will carry some weight with the search committee."

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