Payson Officer Terminated Last Week For Unknown Reasons

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A Payson police officer was fired last week for unknown reasons.

The town of Payson will not release the investigative report or termination letter regarding officer Mark Hillegas’ Dec. 15 firing until an appeal period ends.

Hillegas has until later this month to file an appeal with the town.

As of press time, Hillegas had not appealed the firing, said Police Chief Don Engler.

Payson Mayor Kenny Evans said he could not disclose what Hillegas had done, but “as mayor, I understand that the termination was not for any on-the-job conduct or misconduct.”

Engler would not reveal whether Hillegas had ever been disciplined before. Engler said he couldn’t talk about the case until the appeals period ended, which is after the Christmas holiday on Dec. 27.

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Mark Hillegas

Hillegas termination is the latest scandal at a dwindling police department.

On Aug. 24, Sgt. John Heflin resigned in lieu of termination after Engler learned from fellow officers that Heflin had consumed alcohol while on duty.

Heflin admitted to drinking a beer on two occasions during a dinner break.

Heflin said he felt awful about his choice to drink, but he had not been drinking on a regular basis. However, Engler said Heflin had two options: resign or be fired.

After 15 years with the department, Heflin chose resignation.

Last year, the department’s second highest official was demoted and two officers were disciplined for inappropriate behavior.

Former Lt. Don Garvin was demoted to a sergeant after his relationships with several women came to light.

Garvin admitted to having an affair with the wife of a Department of Public Safety officer and hanging out with a woman who had once applied for a position with the department.

This relationship reportedly violated town policy and ethical codes because Garvin played a role in hiring decisions.

In the past two years, Engler also disciplined two other officers.

Narcotics officer Josh LaManna was demoted to patrol duties in May after he sent sexually explicit text messages and photos to a drug informant.

And in July 2010, Sgt. Dean Faust was suspended for three days after allegedly harassing an on-again, off-again girlfriend while on duty.

The PPD now has 25 active officers, although it is authorized for 30.

With fewer officers on the force, Engler said he has been helping with patrol and worked the streets until 10 p.m. Monday.

Currently, the department does not have anyone going through the police academy. Several already certified officers have submitted applications and the department is going through those, he said.

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