Domestic Violence: Not Now, Not Ever


A jury made short work of a Pine man’s attempt to justify domestic violence.

Randy Alen Zimmer’s lawyer tried to raise all kinds of questions about a fight that pitted Zimmer against his former girlfriend and the 14-year-old son of her friend.

The defense claimed that Zimmer had been incited by a text message, gave way to jealousy and came under attack after he forced his way into the house.

Never mind that Zimmer followed the woman to the house.

Never mind that Zimmer beat a 14-year-old with a skillet so forcefully he dented the metal.

Never mind that the 911 call recorded the violent and terrifying confrontation.

Fortunately, it took the jury just 17 minutes to dismiss the defendant’s excuses and make this community’s feelings perfectly clear: It’s not all right to beat on women and children. Not now. Not ever. No matter what.

Thank goodness for that jury.

We hope that people heed the message.

Domestic violence remains a scourge for this, our beloved community.

Of course, it’s not just Rim Country: Domestic violence remains the single most common violent crime — and the most dangerous of calls for police officers.

We focused relentlessly on domestic violence early last year, when we got a look at the Payson crime statistics. While most types of crime have declined steadily in recent years, domestic violence calls have risen alarmingly. We suspect this reflects the impact of the recession and the sickly job market even in the face of the so-called recovery. Economic difficulties add to family stress. They also make it much harder for women with children in violent relationships to make their escape.

The chronic, debilitating crisis took a horrifying turn into stark tragedy late in the year with a murder-suicide in the heart of this community in a case that had all the hallmarks of the inexorable pattern of domestic violence.

We wish we could say that the terrible toll of this persistent crime had finally gotten the attention of police, prosecutors and lawmakers. Sadly, we can’t make that claim. After all, the only domestic violence shelter in Rim Country last year suffered a staggering $140,000 cut in state and federal support. The Time Out Shelter had saved lives and offered shelter to hundreds of women and children — but must scrounge for spare change and thrift shop sales to keep going.

So we will continue to focus on this complex and tragic problem to help articulate this community’s absolute disdain for those who would turn to violence in even this most intimate and vital a relationship. We’ll continue to focus on this issue in hopes of giving heart to the victims — and giving pause to the perpetrators.

Of course, in the end it depends on the police, prosecutors — and finally juries — to put an end to this terrible scourge, which leaves its scars on children and breeds in the darkness of our denial.

In the meantime, at least one jury has made its views clear.

It’s not all right to batter women and children.

Not now. Not ever.

A new protector

Rim Country has gained a valuable protector.

Department of Public Safety Sgt. Erik Axlund has moved to Payson to take command of a 140-square-mile patrol district centered on this town.

He’ll oversee five officers who patrol the state highways in the region.

The winter storm that hit Rim Country this weekend underscored the challenges of patrolling this vital area of central Gila County. Millions of drivers rush through the region on our highways, many not used to the sometimes-treacherous driving conditions.

Sgt. Axlund fills a command slot left vacant for far too long, which has hampered the vital relationship between the state and local fire departments and police forces. As recent major pileups on the highway have demonstrated, lives depend on the close cooperation between an array of agencies. Unfortunately, the state Legislature has chosen to undercut that vital cooperation with some of its recent budget decisions — like the decision to filch $325,000 in state-shared gas tax money Gila County had relied on to maintain its roads and fund the sheriff’s department. We hope that the state will return that money, now that its revenues have largely recovered.

Of course, none of that should affect the warm welcome Axlund will receive as he takes command. He offers broad experience in the field to go with his criminal justice degree from Northern Arizona University. He’s bringing his family and plans to put down roots in the community he protects. So we welcome our newest protector — and honor his willingness to put his life on the line to protect our beloved community.


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