Paul Babeu's Lieutenants Display Poor Judgment -- Apparently a Disease in His Department -- and Get Nominated, Selected for Prestigious FBI Training Program

CORRECTION: The original version of this item reported that Pinal County Sheriff's Lieutenant Blake King "apparently is 'friends' with some of the Tucson cops who were at Camp Titties and Beer.'" King's attorney has informed New Times that King was not "friends" with any of these individuals. New Times regrets the error and has edited this item to remove it.

Pinal County Lieutenant Tamatha Villar was busted by the Arizona Department of Public Safety -- not once or twice, but three times -- for going at least 94 miles per hour in her county-issued car.

She wasn't responding to emergency traffic. On one of those occasions, her 10-year-old son was a passenger in the car. And even though she received two previous warnings for the same offense, she did not receive a single citation, courtesy of the Department of Public Safety.

Villar has been rewarded by being one of two members of the Pinal County Sheriff's Office nominated by Paul Babeu to attend the FBI National Academy, a prestigious program that fewer than one percent of law enforcement officers will experience.

Her colleague, fellow Lieutenant Blake King, also is attending the National Academy.

And, as New Times recently reported, King apparently wanted to cover up the arrest of Ronald Keys, a man accused of attacking an Arizona DPS officer and seriously injuring a PCSO detective as he resisted arrest last year at Country Thunder, a music festival that draws throngs of country-music fans to Florence every year

King, who asked a deputy Pinal County attorney to get rid of Keys' arrest record from a DPS database, also decided the night of the arrest -- without speaking to the officers who were involved and injured in the incident -- that the DPS officer made a "bad arrest."

Keys is the son of retired Tucson police officers, which is how he came to attend "Camp Titties and Beer," a Country Thunder campground occupied by off-duty Tucson cops and the site of the attack on the DPS officer.

Within hours of the arrest, King also concluded that the DPS officer and the PCSO detective, who were working undercover, didn't properly identify themselves when they entered the camp.

We haven't seen their nomination packets, but we can't imagine they included Villar's penchant for violating traffic laws, or King's extraordinary efforts to apparently cover up the arrest of a suspect accused of attacking fellow cops.

According to the FBI, nominees must "possess an excellent character and enjoy a reputation for professional integrity."

She and PCSO Lieutenant Blake King started the 10-week program in Virginia on April 1.

Anyone else in Villar's shoes, of course, almost is guaranteed to get slapped with a ticket for excessive speed and would face criminal speeding charges. That is, any private citizen would face a driver's-license suspension of at least a year after even that many stops at such a high speeds, And with a child in the car, forget about it!

While state law dictates speed limits around schools and neighborhoods, it also specifically states that "no person shall ... exceed eighty-five miles per hour in other locations."

After the third time Villar was pulled over by a DPS officer, that agency filed a formal complaint with PCSO, and it triggered an internal investigation.

She was given a letter of reprimand, which included an admonishment to "make a conscious effort to observe and obey the posted speed limit," to "refresh" herself on state traffic laws, and to "practice improved time management, leave earlier to ensure you will be on time."

Tim Gaffney, a spokesman for the PCSO, tells New Times that rumors that Villar was traveling at speeds in excess of 100 m.p.h. are not true since there is a device on her county car "which prevents it from traveling over 94."

He also says that Villar, a 12-year employee of the PCSO, never asked not to receive a ticket and was honest during the internal investigation.

"While there were never any civil or criminal charges ever filed, our office still did a Professional Standards investigation and Lieutenant Villar received a "Letter or Reprimand" from her immediate supervisor," Gaffney said. "This is the first form of discipline she has ever received during her law enforcement career."

Regarding having her child in the car, Gaffney simply said it was allowed under Pinal County Vehicle Use Policy, since she was on her way home from work.

Perhaps it's allowed under a policy, but it calls into questions Villar's judgment -- putting a child in danger by traveling at such a speed. And what about King's judgment -- serving as a ranking law enforcement official and asking a county attorney to erase an arrest record?

However, given the type of judgment their own boss has displayed, we'd have to say that professional judgment doesn't seem to top the charts at the Pinal County Sheriff's Office:

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Monica Alonzo
Contact: Monica Alonzo