Jack Hegarty Out as Highway Patrol Chief for Arizona Department of Public Safety; Employee Morale a Factor in Decision

Lieutenant Colonel Jack Hegarty has been replaced as Highway Patrol chief for the Arizona Department of Public Safety, in part due to concerns about his perceived effect on employee morale.

The new boss of the DPS' Highway Patrol division is Major James McGuffin, says DPS spokesman Bart Graves.

Hegarty, as we reported a few weeks ago, was the prime target of employee ire in a survey conducted earlier this year by the Arizona Fraternal Order of Police. Many employees reported in the survey that they were considering leaving the organization and would not recommend it to potential recruits.

And Hegarty, for reasons that still aren't all that clear to New Times, took much of the blame.

We've heard criticisms of Hegarty's allegedly caustic personality, but nothing too specific. This appears to be an insiders' dispute, primarily. However, John Ortolano, president of the state FOP, said he believed the morale issue could possibly affect public safety.

In any case,  DPS Director Robert Halliday responded to the survey by putting together a committee to make recommendations based on the findings. The committee concluded that morale could be improved if Hegarty was removed from his current position. Halliday then asked highway patrol officers to take another survey about Hegarty. In its questions, the new survey contained plenty of positive information about Hegarty's accomplishments.

For sure, this was a tough decision by Halliday. Hegarty wasn't just the highway patrol boss -- he was the director's right-hand man. In Halliday's survey, the director notes that replacing Hegarty would be a very "significant change" to the executive staff.

Hegarty remains with DPS, but Graves declined comment when asked about the lieutenant colonel's new assignment.

Graves emphasized the distinction that Hegarty's removal as highway patrol chief "has nothing to do with the (FOP) survey."

Rather, Graves adds, it had to do with the underlying issue -- morale of the highway patrol officers

Halliday felt that the agency couldn't "be what we want to be with this issue in Highway Patrol," Graves explains.

Division chiefs work at the whim of the director, so the choice was all Halliday's.

Presumably, DPS will soon return to being one big, happy family again.