Bad morale persists at the Arizona Department of Public Safety because of poor leadership, and officers aren't hopeful for change, says a police association official.
A committee formed by DPS Director Robert Halliday recently suggested, among other things, that Halliday demote his second-in-command, Lieutenant Colonel Jack Hegarty.
John Ortolano, president of the Arizona Fraternal Order of Police and a DPS officer, says DPS officers don't seem to think Halliday will do that.
"It appears that a lot of employees believe that the committee's recommendations will be ignored," Ortolano says. "Virtually all of the feedback I've received is in that category."
Earlier this year, a survey of more than 500 of the 1,600-or-so DPS employees showed widespread dissatisfaction with the performance of Halliday -- and especially with Hegarty, his right-hand man.
Ninety-five percent of the employees described morale as low, with 80 percent putting the blame squarely on Hegarty. Most DPS officers said they'd prefer to work at a different law-enforcement agency, and just 5 percent said they'd recommend DPS to someone as a good place to work.
Halliday formed a committee of officers and civilians to make recommendations based on the survey. The committee's primary suggestion was to demote Hegarty.
"The disruptive leadership and management performance of ... Hegarty has consistently been responsible for stifling the performance of Executive Staff," states the committee's
report, obtained last week by New Times. "Reclassifying ... Hegarty will immediately improve the Director's credibility and overall morale within DPS."
The committee, which was chaired by retired Phoenix officer and city of Phoenix employee Marcus Aurelius, also outlined a new command structure that would restore power to the position of deputy director.
Ortolano, one of the seven committee members, explains how Halliday altered the deputy director position after taking over in February of 2010. Previously, assistant directors like Hegarty reported to the deputy director, who was second-in-command. Now, the deputy and assistant directors are all at the "same level," Ortolano says.
The current deputy director is DPS veteran Dennis Young, who retired in 2009 after 37 years on the force before being brought back in by Halliday.
Halliday set the stage for the bad morale after being appointed to the position by Governor Jan Brewer, shaking up the managers and installing his own picks. The dust still hasn't settled, apparently. The committee's report doesn't state exactly what it is about Hegarty that some people hate.
During his confirmation hearing before the state Senate, Director Halliday was questioned about a bullying incident on a golf course. His family life became a news story after a fired officer who'd dated Halliday's daughter filed a federal lawsuit. (Halliday and his daughter later won the suit, though the officer who filed Geoff Jacobs, has launched an appeal.)
Ortolano says he was disheartened to hear that Halliday recently surveyed Highway Patrol officers about Hegarty. Unlike the FOP survey, Ortolano says, Halliday's survey wasn't "scientific." The results haven't been released yet, but officers already don't trust it, he says.
From Ortolano's point of view, the "internal strife" is having a negative affect on the overall efficiency of DPS and how it serves citizens. One of the most visible effects from the bad morale, Ortolano believes, is that more officers have been calling in sick in the last year or so. That makes some days extra tough at the already understaffed agency, which hasn't hired a new officer in three years.
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The FOP president noted a recent study that showed DPS officers had the second-lowest pay of 41 Arizona police agencies. When the economy picks up and DPS and other cop shops begin hiring, many good employees will likely flee the agency, Ortolano predicts.
Halliday hasn't yet addressed the committee's findings because he's on a two-week vacation, says DPS spokesman Bart Graves.
That's one vacation that probably won't seem long enough.