No More Smiley Faces: Arizona DES to Cover Emblem on Shirts Ordered by Fired Director Tim Jeffries

Smiley faces stitched on the back of hundreds of Arizona Department of Economic Security uniforms will be covered with Arizona flags, the agency said on Thursday.
Smiley faces stitched on the back of hundreds of Arizona Department of Economic Security uniforms will be covered with Arizona flags, the agency said on Thursday. Arizona Department of Economic Security
Security officers at Arizona's largest state agency will soon lose their smile — literally.

Officials at the state Department of Economic Security have decided to banish the yellow smiley face that former DES director Tim Jeffries ordered stitched on the backs of 300 uniforms.

The faces, two inches tall and two inches wide, will be covered up with an Arizona flag.

"This change was recommended to ensure the DES uniforms conform with professional law enforcement standards," DES spokeswoman Tasya Peterson said.

(UPDATE: The change will cost the DES just over $800. See invoice below).

The Latin phrases "Ditat Deus" and "Samaritanus Protectores," which adorn the uniforms' sleeves, will stay for now.

Those emblems are stitched above flags of Arizona and the United States.

Governor Doug Ducey fired Jeffries on November 23 over concerns about the way he'd handled the firing of almost 500 people from the agency during his 22 months on the job.

click to enlarge Flags and Latin writing, including the state's motto and a motto made up by Jeffries. - ARIZONA DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMIC SECURITY
Flags and Latin writing, including the state's motto and a motto made up by Jeffries.
Arizona Department of Economic Security
Long before that, Jeffries was well known during his 22 months leading DES for his offbeat, often cheery personality and outspokenness about his deep faith in Catholicism.

Jeffries tried to endear himself to the nearly 8,000 DES employees with videos, e-mails, and personal visits, and made the classic, circular smiley face his mascot.

He put one next to his name on the door to his office, and they would often show up in his documents and presentations.

Following the terrorist attack in December 2015 on a social-services agency in San Bernardino, California, Jeffries ordered a massive increase in security at DES. He doubled the budget and number of armed officers from 26 to 52.

He ordered concrete bollards placed in front of DES' headquarters at 17th Avenue and Jefferson Street in Phoenix, near the State Capitol.

Of course, he had one bollard painted as a yellow smiley face.

Jeffries also decided last year to replace the contract security officers at DES facilities around the state with an internal security force placed under the purview of a DES division.

That division, the DES Office of Inspector General — Protective Services Administration, then adopted the new uniforms and offbeat insignia.

DES announced its decision to cover up the smiley faces on Thursday afternoon, following inquiries by New Times the same day and the release by DES of photos of the uniform emblems.

Peterson didn't say the decision included the other emblems, and didn't immediately respond to a follow-up question about them.

Covering up "Ditat Deus," which every Arizona schoolkid knows is the state motto and Latin for "God Enriches," might be problematic, given the state's Republican majority.

"Samaritanus Protectores," on the other hand, reflects Jeffries' personality nearly as much as the smiley face.

The exact phrase returns no hits on Google.

click to enlarge Charles Loftus, former DES head of security. - ARIZONA DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMIC SECURITY
Charles Loftus, former DES head of security.
Arizona Department of Economic Security
Charles Loftus, the former DES security director who was fired along with Jeffries, told the Arizona Daily Independent news site last month the phrase was the new motto of DES Protective Services.

"DES employees are the Samaritans of Arizona working for low pay and under difficult situations," he reportedly said. "DES Protective Services was there to protect them. We had their backs, and having that on the uniform would help remind them and the guards of the mission."

The word Samaritanus is Latin for Samaritan, the name of the ancient Israelite sect that exists in modern English as a noun for someone who helps or protects someone else.

The word became best known to Western civilization because of the New Testament parable in which a Samaritan helps a man who was beaten by robbers.

St. Augustine, a hero of Jeffries — who's studying to get a master's degree in Catholic theology at Colorado's Augustine University — took the Good Samaritan story even deeper, writing that Jesus is the Good Samaritan in his own parable.

Protectores is Latin for protectors — a title used by the Roman Empire for senior army officers who were especially devoted to their emperor.

UPDATE — Peterson released an invoice (below) on Friday showing that the new Arizona flag patches cost about $500, while it costs about $300 to have them sewn on over the smiley faces. Total cost: $807.14.

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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.
Contact: Ray Stern