Feathered Bastard

Shawna Forde Associate a Former Pima County Sheriff's Deputy in Training?

The Norwegian video interview of Shawna Forde and a fella by the name of Todd Hezlitt

Someone recently sent me a link to the blog Immigration Talk with a Mexican American, which in turn links to the blog Crooks & Liars and a Norwegian news video featuring the infamous Shawna Forde of Minuteman American Defense. You'll recall Forde as the right-wing wacko who's alleged to have home-invaded an Arivaca dwelling looking to rob the place, and ending by killing a nine year-old girl and her father.

ITWMA did some research on this guy Todd Hezlitt, who is interviewed by the Norwegians along with Forde, and who is identified as being an Iraq war veteran. The blog author discovered info indicating that there was a "Todd R. Hezlitt" identified as being with the Pima County Sheriff's Department in a P.O.S.T. document, P.O.S.T. being the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board.

This certainly would be an alarming development if true, so I called the Pima County Sheriff's Department. Public Information Officer Deputy Dawn Barkman informed me that they did have someone in the academy by the name of Todd Hezlitt at one time, but that he never made it through, and was discharged in July of 2008.

"He failed to meet the qualifications of the academy," explained Barkman. She could not say whether or not the PCSD's Hezlitt and the one shown in the Norwegian video were one and the same.

The P.O.S.T. document in question is dated January 21, 2009.  Lyle W. Mann, Executive Director AZ P.O.S.T., explained in an e-mail to me that the mention of "new charging cases" -- of which, Hezlitt's case was one -- refers to "the step in the process wherein the Board decides whether or not to initiate proceedings against the person's certification." Mann did not comment on Hezlitt specifically, however, the minutes do say under Hezlitt's name that his case was "pulled from the agenda." (This would seem logical if he were no longer with PCSD.)

Cooperation between law enforcement and minuteman groups is a worrisome issue in Arizona, especially with Sheriff Joe Arpaio here in Maricopa County. In a recent cover story, Ja, Joe!, I detailed links between the MCSO and minuteman groups, and the MCSO and neo-Nazis. And then there's the MCSO's posse. I'm working on getting info about who is in the posse and if they're vetted for ties to extremist groups. Stay tuned for that.

If the Hezlitt in the video and the Hezlitt who didn't make it through the academy are one and the same, it would indicate what we already know: that some law enforcement personnel are sympathetic to extremist nativist organizations. In this case, it seems Hezlitt didn't make the cut, according to the PCSD. And that's a good thing.