DPS Director Robert Halliday Lobbies for No. 2 Man, Jack Hegarty, With Internal Push Poll; Employees Say Halliday's Aide Hurts Morale

Robert Halliday, Arizona Department of Public Safety director, is lobbying for his No. 2 man with an internal survey that highlights the aide's accomplishments.

As we reported last week, a Fraternal Order of Police survey of employees earlier this year found extreme displeasure with Halliday's top aide, Lieutenant Colonel Jack Hegarty. Morale at the DPS is in the dumps, the survey showed, with a large percentage of employees considering moving to a different police agency.

Halliday put a committee together to make recommendations based on the survey's findings. The committee's primary suggestion: Demote Hegarty.

So, Halliday has asked his Highway Patrol officers to take another survey. This one, however, reads more like an advertisement for Hegarty than an honest effort to collect opinions.

Click here to see the survey.

(We're not sure if all the results are in, so you probably shouldn't actually take the survey unless you're a DPS officer.)

Halliday begins this survey with a preamble noting that removing Hegarty from his position "would be a very significant change" to the executive staff.

Most of the survey questions that follow detail some great thing Hegarty's said to have done. Here are a couple of examples:

Lieutenant Colonel Hegarty has strongly advocated in Executive Staff meetings for any use of vacancy savings or other available funds within the Department budget to include uniform allowance, overtime, equipment and training, and vehicle fleet improvements prior to any hiring of patrol officers. Do you agree with this strategy?

Lieutenant Colonel Hegarty aggressively lobbied ADOT to change its policy regarding work zone traffic enforcement due to what he believed were safety concerns when ADOT used local officers. He directed on-duty patrol officers be assigned on overtime in one construction zone for six months in addition to ADOT scheduled local officers due to several fatal crashes in a work zone. While this effort played a role in the recent ADOT policy change to place DPS officers in work zones, it caused a significant strain in our relationship with ADOT and other government leaders. Do you support this philosophy?

Only in the final question does Halliday's survey get to the heart of the matter:

"Do you feel the removal of Lieutenant Colonel Hegarty would improve morale in the Highway Patrol Division?"

By putting in all that info about the good things Hegarty's done, Halliday clearly expects a result different from the earlier survey. This is what we'd call a type of positive push poll. Typically, a push poll is negative and aims merely to spread ugly gossip about a politician's opponent instead of actually collect data.

Halliday's poll both spreads good news about Hegarty, ostensibly countering some of the bad feelings about him held by some employees, and seeks a new source of support for Hegarty that the director can use to justify keeping him in his position.

This is all somewhat of an inside-baseball story, since dislike of Hegarty by line officers probably doesn't mean you're more likely to escape a freeway speeding ticket. But John Ortolano, president and CEO of the Arizona FOP, told us last week that the bad morale is making the agency less able to efficiently serve citizens.

Whether that's true or not, the questions in Halliday's new poll sure seem to advance an agenda rather than find out what officers really think.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.