Payson Should Form Citizen Review Board For Police

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Editor:

Recent articles in the paper have prompted me to write this letter. It was reported that a group of citizens, after working for many months, recommended that Don Engler be promoted as the next Payson police chief. This same group then resigned en masse, when the Town advertised for outside applications. Perhaps the members of this group have never experienced some of the existing problems associated with the Payson Police Department.

Have you ever been stopped for a minor traffic violation and then detained for an hour, while being checked for "outstanding warrants" and then released when none were found? Have you ever reported an incident only to have the responding officer treat you as if you were the criminal? Have you ever reported a crime and had the responding officer destroy or contaminate the physical evidence and then not investigate the crime? Have you ever felt that you were on a "list" for special treatment from the police?

When these types of things happen, the citizen has only two choices here in Payson. You can do nothing or you can file a lawsuit, nether of which solve the problem.

There is a better solution.

Payson has a good police force with many fine officers, but it is well known in local law enforcement circles that we also have some serious problems. I challenge the Payson Town Council to make our police force better by forming a civilian police commission where complaints can be filed, without the person's name going to the police department. In this way, fear of retribution can be reduced, many problems can be eliminated, and the reputation and credibility of the Payson Police Department can be improved. Lawsuits might also be reduced, freeing up funds for additional police assets.

I also strongly recommend that the new chief be hired from outside the town, so existing management styles are not defended. Instead, they will be modified.

I would like to hear your story about good or bad treatment from the Payson Police Department. Feel free to send your story or comments to me at 901 N. McLane Road, Payson, AZ 85541 or e-mail them to me at gfriest@cbiwireless.com. All information provided will be held in confidence. Your name is not required, but actual cases with names and case numbers would help make credible arguments for change.

For the record, I am a 27-year resident of Payson with several hundred hours personally invested in providing mapping, addressing and telecommunication facilities to make the E911 program a reality. I hope this letter is recognized as an effort to improve our police department and does not mark me for additional special treatment.

Greg Friestad, Payson

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