Just what does a Payson cop have to do to get fired these days? Lie to the chief? Nope. That won’t work. Send off pictures of his private parts that would put a congressman to shame. Nope. Not that either.
Sexually harass a confidential drug informant, whose freedom depends on the trust and good will of the officer? Nope. Not that either.
Endanger investigations as a result of inappropriate personal behavior? Get drunk in bars? Lie to supervisors about overdue reports? Expose confidential investigative information? Misuse a town cell phone?
Nope, nope, nope. None of that will suffice.
After all, officer Josh LaManna did all of that — and more. The consequence: He got demoted from narcotics to patrol and took a 10 percent cut in pay.
Mind you, the LaManna case comes on top of the wrist-slap demotion of the department’s second highest-ranking officer after he had an affair with the wife of a Department of Public Safety officer, misled the police chief during an investigation and exchanged sexually explicit phone messages with a woman applying for a job with the department.
And yet the town council also recently overrode the recommendations of a hearing officer and decided to fire a longtime town employee suspected of attempting to access the town manager’s e-mail. The hearing officer concluded the town hadn’t actually proved its case.
What the heck gives?
In truth — we think the town ought to employ a double standard when considering the misbehavior of police officers — but the standard should be higher, not lower.
Police officers have a sacred trust — and a grave responsibility. They have the training and the tools to employ lethal force at any moment. They have the power to make arrests — and to let illegal behavior slide. Their word carries great weight in court, as judges and juries make decisions that will affect the whole course of a citizen’s life.
In recognition of that responsibility and the risk they take every day on our behalf, police officers get better pay and much better benefits than almost anyone else in town. So we have a right to expect those officers to abide by a rigid code of honor and trust.
Clearly, some officers in the Payson Police Department have squandered that trust — and the department’s reaction seems timid and half-hearted.
Once the people realize that even flagrant misbehavior won’t get a cop fired in this town, every honest and honorable officer on the force will lose that most precious of tools — the trust of the citizens they serve.
Tonto Apache council redistricting map makes a good compromise
There is lots of resistance to drawing up new district supervisor and college boundaries in Gila County.
The southern part of the county wants to ignore the growing population and clout of what is being called North County. For years, Globe, as the county seat, has controlled the swing districts, thus in many ways they can just ignore the needs of the northern part of Gila County.
The southern stranglehold is most evident at Gila Community College meetings, when our representatives cannot get answers to their financial questions or have items placed on the agenda.
But there is some life, as a new redistricting map created by the Tonto Apache Tribal Council seems to solve the equalization problem. The tribal council wants an Apache-influenced district. The map as presented moves the tribe into a district with the San Carlos and White Mountain Apaches and moves some Hispanic voters into District 2. The plan essentially creates a northern leaning district, a southern leaning district and a true swing district, providing all areas with equal representation and strength. It all makes perfectly good sense, except maybe to the Washington, D.C. consultant who was hired by the county to help guide the whole thing through the federal maze.
The consultant’s map would result in a roughly 7 percent population difference between the largest and smallest districts. The Tonto Apache plan would produce a difference of about 1 or 2 percent — getting as close as possible to the one-man-one-vote requirement.
The plan put forth by the tribal council is the best idea to come out so far, as the county looks to re-draw district lines. The Payson Town Council will examine the map on Thursday and we encourage them to support this proposal.