West Valley View
Does Buckeye need Sheriff Arpaio’s help?
Candidates speak out on MCSO aid for police shortage
Robin N. Clayton
Should the Buckeye Police Department ask the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office to step in and help with patrols until Buckeye can get the patrol personnel it needs in place?
Buckeye mayoral and council candidates addressed that question, posed by a Buckeye resident at a Feb. 17 candidate’s forum.
While they agreed that cooperation between law enforcement agencies is a good thing, most of the candidates expressed a desire to build Buckeye’s police force rather than getting MCSO involved in Buckeye police affairs.
Asking MCSO for help?
Current Mayor and council candidate Dusty Hull said no — and that he learned that the hard way.
“Over the last eight years I have made some mistakes,” Hull said. “Eight years ago, sitting with [then] Councilman [Bobby] Bryant, my rocket idea was to sit down and talk to the sheriff about doing just this.
“But I learned very quickly after one council meeting — when I could smell the tar burning and the feathers were being pulled out of the bag, and the residents were standing there with pitchforks — this was not what they wanted.”
Hull said he didn’t know how the residents of Verrado (where the candidate forum was held) felt, but from his past experience, he didn’t support the idea.
“They let me know very plainly if I went in this direction, they had a rail for me to get out of town,” Hull said. “I don’t think they have changed any. I think we just need to stick with our own department and make it better.”
“That is a very bad question to ask me,” mayoral candidate and current Councilman Jackie Meck said.
Meck, who is general manager of the Buckeye Irrigation and Conservation District, said MSCO has not been very responsive to district problems in the past.
“The last 12 months I have had 51 wells vandalized. We have called the sheriff’s department time and again, and sometimes they might show up two days later. To date we have not had one case solved,” Meck said.
About the question of sheriff involvement — no, he said.
“I would not like to see that,” Meck said. “The Sheriff’s Office is a different jurisdiction than what the local police are. There are two sheriff’s deputies, I think, that go roughly from Avondale all the way to our county line near Gila Bend. If you call the sheriff, you might wait awhile because they are not going to show up for a long time.”
Towns should not contract out for public safety, mayoral candidate Bobby Bryant said.
“In 1988 or 1989, the sheriff actually offered the town of Buckeye a contract to take over the policing services for the town,” Bryant said. “I was on the council at that time and I voted no. The reason I did is that I don’t believe in contracting public safety.
“No — I do not in any way want the sheriff involved in patrolling any part of the town of Buckeye,” he added.
Buckeye already gets help from the Sheriff’s Office, mayoral candidate and current Vice Mayor Chris Urwiller said.
“I don’t know exactly how many acres are still in the county that is in our planning area, but they already do provide us a service because of the way we are arranged,” Urwiller said. “We are not 100 percent all Buckeye. I believe that we do get help from the sheriff’s department now, but they just protect those areas that are in the county and we protect our areas.”
More council support for Saban
Council members should show more support for current police Chief Dan Saban, instead of involving MCSO, council candidate Dave Rioux said.
“If we need help, we need to ask for it, but I think if the council was to support the police chief and ask for more officers — get them through the academy, get them on the street and actually get these patrol officers coming through your neighborhoods on a regular basis — council needs to help support [Saban] and give him more people on the street and less commanders,” Rioux said.
“Public safety is just so important. We need to really show our support for our police chief and all the police personnel that are on duty,” Bryant said.
One of the problems is the length of time it takes to hire and train a new officer, incumbent council candidate Robert Doster said.
“The problem is the time frame from hiring a new policeman and when they get on board. There is a fairly long period of time there, so you just can’t snap your fingers and have 30 new policemen,” Doster said.
Utilizing the Sheriff’s Office might be an answer, but that question should be asked of Saban, Doster said.
“Is there something that can be done there? I don’t know. Maybe. And I don’t know what Chief Saban says, but I can’t say that is a bad idea,” Doster said. “If Chief Saban says it is a good idea, then I think it is.”
A bigger chunk of the budget could help solve the problem, Meck said.
“I think our police department is in good hands, and we need to see that they take care of the community,” Meck said. “If they need to add more people, then we need to provide more budget money for that.”
Council candidate David Hardesty agreed.
“If we are short police, then we need to give them more money, and give them whatever they need to be able to protect us,” he said. “If they need more money, well let’s find it. Let’s get more police officers out there, and get them what they need.”
The shortage of patrol officers comes along with the growth, just like most problems the town is facing now, council candidate Phillip Brookover said.
“We are going to have these kinds of problems,” he said. “We are going to have problems with the schools, with the development, with trying to keep the communities together, with revitalizing the downtown — there are so many things. It is not just fire and police, it is the whole thing, and we are going through incredible growth.”
Instead of looking to the outside, trust should be placed in the current public safety leadership, Brookover added.
“I spoke with Chief Saban back in December and was really quite impressed with the plan and things that he has for us,” Brookover said.” They [Saban and Fire Chief Scott Rounds] have a pretty good idea what is going on. We have some pretty good leadership I think at the helm. They have a lot of these kinds of experiences where they came from — Chief Rounds and Chief Saban — so I think we are going to stay the course with how things are going in that direction. It looks good.”
Robin Clayton can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.