Tragic Consequences Follow Mayor Tom Rankin's Control of Politics and Police in Florence

SPECIAL REPORT: FLORENCE EXPOSED | Third of three parts


Seated in a conference room near his Florence Town Hall office and dressed in his standard collared shirt, silver belt buckle, cowboy hat, jeans, and roughed-up cowboy boots, Mayor Tom Rankin looks as if he has stepped out of Florence's frontier past.

Brian Stauffer
Rankin says Pinal County Attorney Lando Voyles (pictured) cost him $40,000 a year by shutting down the system of child-support enforcement that gave work to Rankin's process-service company, transferring that system to the state.
Rankin says Pinal County Attorney Lando Voyles (pictured) cost him $40,000 a year by shutting down the system of child-support enforcement that gave work to Rankin's process-service company, transferring that system to the state.

And minus the sidearm and badge he wore when he was the town's chief of police from 1980 to 1994, this is pretty much how he appeared during his 14-year reign over the Florence Police Department.

Rankin still prefers the title he says he used to go by, before Florence began to give lip service to the tenets of modern law enforcement: town marshal.

"I guess I fit more of that [title] than police chief," Rankin, 67, explains during an interview with New Times. "As far as the Western town marshal goes."

In Arizona statutes, the words "marshal" and "chief of police" are used interchangeably to mean a law enforcement officer who is either appointed or elected by a city or town. For some time in Florence, the town manager (hired by the Town Council) has appointed the police chief.

Yet the more antique term of "marshal" suggests a time when one man represented the law in a town.

Rankin has not overseen Florence's small police force directly in almost a decade, but he still likes to remind people of who is in charge. Particularly when he is having one of his infamous public fits of temper.

The most recent of these incidents occurred in May, when an inspector with the Pinal County Department of Health was checking the food booths at a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, held on the Florence High School football field.

Rankin got in the woman's face, pointing his finger at her and yelling, according to a police report.

"Yeah, I raised a little hell with that," Rankin admits. "I never threatened her .  .  . Nothing came of it. They looked at filing charges against me. There wasn't nothing to file."

The Coolidge City Attorney investigated the woman's complaint and decided not to bring charges. Rankin says he was riled because the inspector made a fuss over one booth handing out cold pizza and the lack of sinks for food handlers to wash their hands.

He admits he probably said something about the inspector not coming to "his town" to do health inspection.

"Everybody says I call it 'my town,' okay?" grumbles Rankin. "And I do . . . That's just an expression for me. I'm not trying to say that I run the town."

And yet, there are those who say Rankin runs Florence like a personal fiefdom.

"People try to turn it around like I'm trying to say I'm King Rankin or some goddamn thing like that," Rankin says.

On paper, Rankin has no more than one vote out of seven on the Florence Town Council.

But through a combination of bully politics, persuasion, and force of will, he maintains his influence over the 62-square-mile municipality, founded in 1866, that has twice as many incarcerated residents in its 10 corrections and detention facilities than it does non-incarcerated citizens.

The town's 30-officer police force reflects Rankin's prejudices — racial and otherwise — and his adherence to a system of provincial favoritism. Florence's back-slapping style of governance is extolled by the mayor as the best way of doing business.

Florence is Rankin's town. Its leadership, citizenry, and police force bend to his will, even when doing so arguably is not to the town's advantage. Even when following in Rankin's footsteps reaps injustice.


"In eighth grade, I knew I wanted to be a cop," Rankin says. "A cowboy cop."

Asked why he wanted to be a "cowboy cop," Rankin shrugs his shoulders.

But if you visit the Pinal County Historical Society and Museum on Main Street in Florence or leaf through the picture book the society produced in 2007 with the help of Arcadia Publishing, it is apparent why becoming a "cowboy cop" might have appealed to an impressionable eighth-grader growing up in the town.

Displays at the museum feature a collection of memorabilia from cowboy film legend Tom Mix, who died in a car crash just outside Florence, as well as nooses from which notorious outlaws were hanged at the Arizona State Prison, which moved to Florence from its territorial home in Yuma in the early 1900s.

There are displays of guns, saddles, bullets, and badges. Museum guides regale visitors with tales of the 1888 shootout between Sheriff Peter Gabriel and deputy Josephus Phy at the Tunnel Saloon. Or recount legends associated with such Old West outlaws as the murderous Apache Kid or stagecoach-robbing Pearl Hart, the "Lady Bandit."

In the Images of America: Florence picture book, there are plenty of photos of cowboys and cowboy cops: mounted cowboy guards from the state prison and wardens in cowboy attire and on horseback.

Also atop a horse in an undated photo from the book is Pete Van Haren, identified as Florence's town marshal from 1946 to 1977. A stern figure in dark glasses, he watches over the parade associated with the town's annual Junior Parada, a rodeo for contestants ages 5 to 18.

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54 comments
DoyleSherlock
DoyleSherlock

Tragic consequences seem to be haunting the House of Rankin lately as well. This article states that outbursts of temper are commonplace with this elected official. Is Heath Rankin, the officer identified by Sheriff Babeu as the shooter of Mr. Longoria in Eloy, related to self-described gunslinger Tom? Are impulsive acts rampant in the Rankin line?  When will poor Pinal County ever move past the muck and the mire? When will our savior arrive?

tpd-rmi
tpd-rmi

Well let's see how this con traversal shooting pans out, seeing the PCSO deputy is Mayor Rankins nephew

Pamela
Pamela

Florence PD, MCSO and the US Marshal's Office all have similar issues.

furreal
furreal

We voted for him because he speaks with a fork tongue! When you lie sometimes it takes a while to catch up with you. So his lies were true those who didn't know. It's time for a full investigation! Town of Florence Town Council, you need to demand a full investigation of all allegations that have been made on this website. Tom Rankin should be presumed innocent until proven guilty. Town Council I suggest you bring outside sources in to do the investigations. When such allegations of murder, rape, concealment of evidence, tampering with evidence, racial allegations, nepotism, tampering with law enforcement, sloppy investigations, sexual harassment, and many more that have been listed. When these type of allegations have been made about your mayor your sergeant your lieutenant your police department your investigators, they need to be taken seriously. If the town council let this go, we the people of Florence will not stop. Do not try to sweep these allegations under the rug. Get the dirt out of your town, our town. If these allegations are true these people need to be held accountable, every one of them.

Stop talking about the children, how many children they have had, how many marriages or sex partners, their drug history, there criminal history, is now all in the past ( for some of them). This is what is wrong with the town of Florence. You never let go of peoples past you always throw some ones and negative passed in their face. I know that two of those members of those children have worked very hard on their lives. Leave them in peace. And go after who you truly want. Tom Rankin I know you've done wrong, I know you're dirty, if you're not afraid, and think you and your current Chief of Police are totally in the right, then encourage in outside investigation on all of these allegations. From the young ladies rape, young child unfortunate death, the firing do to prejudiced and racial, and the firing of the last Chief of Police!

dom2dom
dom2dom

If all this is really going on, why the hell did the town of Florence vote Tom Rankin as Mayor? Ya must be some crack smokin mothers To vote a criminal in office!

1topdog
1topdog

These allegations about the Rankin family doesn't surprise me at all! Anything or anybody good for the town of Florence that isn't Tom Rankin and his family, they see to it they are chased out of town. Take for example Bob, the ex chief of police, Bob had good communication skills, the only reason he got a bad score on communications from the recent interview test what because Terry was pissed. The please department needs to get out of the hands of the town council (manager), that gives the opportunity for foul play.

Now TomTom I believe top shooter put on there your rap sheet! However since your dad was able to get you out of many allegations. But how about your most recent, are there charges pending for the abuse of your baby's momma? Everyone knows you're a woman beater, un educated, unemployed, still living at your mama's house, you won't leave Florence because you know you won't make it anywhere else! Do yourself a favor and go get help, without being rude you seriously need it!

Jessica what is it like to get a promotion because you slept with your boss? Does your current husband know how many people you slept with after you broke up and got back together? How many kids, how many marriages, how many sex partners? And are you still doing a sex partner swaps!

Robbie good thing you finally cleaned up your act (supposedly). How many children do you have that you're actually taking care of? How many people off Florence have you stolen from? And from the comments below it looks like you even stole from your parents!

Three children With a bad sense of direction And a bad sense of morals wondering where they got their values and morals from

ExpertShot
ExpertShot topcommenter

Stupid is as Stupid Does:

Disciplinary Infractions 7 record(s) [info] Violation DateInfractionVerdict Date
Verdict 07/17/2008
DRUG POS/MFG ETC07/17/2008GUILTY-MAJ.VIOL 02/28/2008
SELL/TRADE SRVCS03/03/2008GUILTY-MIN.VIOL 12/13/2007
DRUG POS/MFG ETC12/19/2007GUILTY-MAJ.VIOL 10/23/2007
DRUG POS/MFG ETC11/06/2007GUILTY-MAJ.VIOL 10/13/2007
FAIL CLEANLINESS10/17/2007GUILTY-MIN.VIOL 08/14/2007
STAFF OBSTRUCTN08/21/2007GUILTY-MAJ.VIOL 08/14/2007
DISRESPECT08/21/2007GUILTY-MAJ.VIOL


king181465
king181465

sounds like you all know us so good! lol you all r full of shit and need to pull ur heads out ur ass!! come on people get a life look up ur family tree!! you mad now! its not helping stressing over shit u dnt know!! smile and wave at u dummys!!

momof3
momof3

Sounds to me like this town has a low mentality, my guess is a high pregnancy rate, high drug and alcohol rate with complete denial. It also sounds like There should be an investigation into the allegations , very thorough one where local law enforcement and/or their friends in different cities or towns are not involved in, then maybe these people that are afraid to speak will speak knowing somethings going to get done. If I was the town manager or the town mayor in order to clear my town from these allegations I would have an outsider come in and do it clean investigation but if they're banning this new times they're probably going to deny a good investigation or they'll do an investigation with their people. That is typical small town mentality it is the town's fear of not being the important person anymore, psychological evidence would says this town has serious problems

radioactive2
radioactive2

@gregarmyguard exactly how many dead people can light a fire sounds suspicious or if its going to be the other way around how many people shoot themselves after they've lit a fire I'll bet if it was investigated there would be more found out......

Donna doesn't care that her husband is a pig she knows he has cheated on her he make sexual comments in front of women in front of her all the time. The Rankin family is embarrassing to Florence they think their name means something but that something is stupid!

tfro1988
tfro1988

Tom and Donna just because you have a biracial child doesn't mean you're still not racist. So stop going around saying for Christ sakes our child is half black. You know you disapprove of TomTom dating a black woman you know that won the president of the United States got elected and the sheriff of Pinall County got elected, that is the year Tom and Donna went around saying" what has the world come to, we have a nigger for president in a faggot for sheriff"_ hell you guys have a younge black girl that just think you're everything she's babysitting for you volunteering for you helping you right and left, but if she knew you called her a nigger mixed raced , psycho who is sexually confused, and clings to everybody I think she would hate you just as much as everybody else who knows your true colors.y. Yet in front of her face you act like you like her, Jessica might actually like her but Donna and Tom come on you called her and nigger!

gregarmyguard
gregarmyguard

You should ask Donna's former employee about Tom's sexual harassment and his little porn addiction!!!!! And how did the guy shoots himself and then burn his house

1realtruth
1realtruth

Tom you should have charges of sexual harassment pressed against you, and I thinking investigation by the Superior Court in Pinal County Attorney's which find that you have spoke to women many times inappropriately. Making comments about the breast size or there butt the sizes, or if they're gay telling them they just haven't had the right dick yet! Donna you know he's a pig. Tom what happened to one of your wives husband, or was it a woman you were cheating with? Anyway somehow he turned out shot killed himself and then burn his house down. Wasn't that while you were cheif of the police. Didn't you have something to do with that investigation since you were datin the woman whose husband was involved maybe you shouldn't have been involved in the investigation. This is a plea to Pinal County Attorney's investigation needs to be launched on Tom Rankin With his involvement in the town the police department the county attorney's office and Superior Court. I believe that people know he will be held accountable for the things he has done in the past and is still doing, they will begin to speak!

toymare
toymare

them say it who do you think you are protecting? Tom you know Bob ex Cheif of police stood by your family when you had a heart attack and your kid stole your wallot and made you broke! Bob did nothing but show kindness to you he respected you and your family and you never gave it back! His education made you afraid of him Admit it! Also concerning Jarred VanRobinson you Donna and tom have called him a nigger ccommenting that a nigger has a badge now! Terry Tryon you think Rankin family likes you your wrong, they call you a baffling baboon! Terry admit yor wrongs it's not worth Rankin family taken you and your family with them is it? Tell how Tom really handled Tom Tom when being arrested for crimes he was caught at! How about the time Tom demanded Tom Tom car to be released out of impound!

Florence is sick with good ol boy syndrome!

Jukes
Jukes

Ms. Sill better open a real estate office in another town or she's going to go broke.  Anybody who would buy property in Florence is either nuts or in league with these people. 

MaskedMagician1967
MaskedMagician1967 topcommenter

In all seriousness, this guy sounds as bad as Arpaio.

FPD should be put in federal receivership. Now.

eric.nelson745
eric.nelson745 topcommenter

Pinal County Attorney Lando Voyles described James Kemp's "unsafe storage" of a handgun "a tragic accident." Well, I'm here to tell you that in itself should constitute a felony.

eric.nelson745
eric.nelson745 topcommenter

Rankin looks extremely dorky in that high school yearbook photo. I guess being an asshole bully must be his way of overcoming his wimpy image when he was a kid.

robert_graham
robert_graham

By the way, the Phonex New Times is being banned in Florence.

jacksonhill
jacksonhill

Jeeze, what a white trash mafia in this shit-hole town! Tom Rankin's a cracker godfather.

jrvelez45
jrvelez45

damn the shit keeps coming, oh boy !!

ibcingutoo
ibcingutoo

I have yet to meet one redhead -- male or female-- who isn't bat shit crazy.  He even looks like a Republican racist.



MsKay
MsKay

I live in Florence and I love my town, and find it quite interesting how people come to these websites and assume that an entire town is as portrayed in the article.  Sure, I know the Rankins, and they are a family just like any other family, good, bad, or indifferent.  Are they perfect, no, and neither are you.  They are not a Klan, or a Mafia, or anything else, they are people who deserve to be respected as such. 

f-ward
f-ward

Having personally dealt with members of the Rankin klan and in my opinion are definitely not too bright and are assholes.   Their bullying campaigns begin once you disagree with any of their opinions or upon engaging them in conversation and leaving them speechless and dumb-founded in front of others.  (Which really isn't hard to do.)   Now that responsible city politics is coming to small town Arizona, these old timers like the Rankin klan are thankfully wedged out of politics.

ExpertShot
ExpertShot topcommenter

I'm gonna open a head shop in Florence - they MUST be a bunch of meth smoking sums o bitches!


Pamela
Pamela

Do a similar investigative story on the US Marshal's Office and what everyone thinks of Marshal David Gonzales! Interview people he worked with while Chairman of HIDTA. Do a lawsuit records search in Federal Court.

toersbijnsc
toersbijnsc

When is the movie coming out? This makes the gossip page quick if it was on film..

ReggieVV
ReggieVV

The fact is that the Rankin gang has run off more local businesses than helped. One business owner told me she would never invest another dime in Florence because of what she called, "the yahoo mentality."

king181465
king181465

@radioactive2 shut the fuck up please thank you

eric.nelson745
eric.nelson745 topcommenter

Add racist pig to my description of Rankin.

jacksonhill
jacksonhill

Banned how, stupid? You are lying. But even if the hayseeds did that, there would still be the Internet.

Jukes
Jukes

If even HALF the things discussed in this article are true, you should be ashamed of your town.

TheyCallMeMrTibbs
TheyCallMeMrTibbs

@MsKay Lady, if you think this is an average family, you've been living in Florence WAY too long.

king181465
king181465

you keep calling us a klan in ur post man fuck you we are a family asshole yes its ur opinion but should keep it to urself

dogbiter
dogbiter

Who is this clown always talking about David Gonzalez? He has nothing to do with any of this. Get a clue, lady!

king181465
king181465

ur fact is full of shit!! its small town shit! its not a gang we a family!!!

MsKay
MsKay

@Jukes Where do you live, and we can talk about the things that are wrong with it!  No place is perfect and happiness is what you make of it.  I STILL love my town!!!!  Did I say I love the police force?  No, but I bet you don't love yours either!!  But I don't hate or disrespect them for the job they do either.   Don't sit in judgement making yourself feel better by downing others.  That's what bullies do

MsKay
MsKay

@TheyCallMeMrTibbs @MsKay Show me where I called this an "average" family, and then we can continue on with this discussion.  You jumped to all kinds of conclusions, I said they are a family worthy of respect as all people are worthy of respect.  I have lived in Florence for 30 plus years, my friend.  and still proud of it.  I have accomplished just as much living in Florence as I could living anywhere else.  So you can knock Florence, but you seem to spend quite a bit of time trolling the internet.... Mr. Tibbs.  Excellent Movie, however...or do you know your name is a line from a movie?

f-ward
f-ward

@king181465 ...Thanks for validating the content in my post.  Trust me, the majority of Florence and Coolidge residents are laughing at the Rankin klan right now.   Perhaps you can all return to school and learn how to use punctuation.

jrvelez45
jrvelez45

@king181465 gotta thin skin i see, but u makin it worse by responding back, ya know ??

Pamela
Pamela

@dogbiter This is why you do an investigation.  You won't have to speak to many people in HIDTA, in the Marshal's Office or in Superior Court Records, to see what there is about US Marshal David Gonzlaes.

robert_graham
robert_graham

By the way, call 602.926.2873 and listen to the recordings and then tell me if the Hispanics against amnesty are racists too?

king181465
king181465

yep thats me!! good pic back in 2002 it was taken!! thx!! I bet you people hate urself and you had alife instead of being in my family lifes!!

king181465
king181465

I love fucking wit you dumb ass people that have no other lifes but put the vlame on someone! yes this is tom tom wats ur name!! let us all know who you really are instead of hiding behind your email! ur probably the dumb ass that ur family disowned!@thycallmemrtibbs

 
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