April 17, 2018 – For those of you curious about the recently published article from a Michael Bloomberg owned media outlet claiming that the Yuma County Sheriff is essentially selling HR218 LEOSA status (the ability to carry concealed as a peace officer anywhere in the country), here’s an explanation about how this came about and some answers to the most basic questions that reveal the truth. The following is a personal message Sheriff Day sent his own staff to address any question they have or may be faced with in their own community interactions.
About 2 weeks ago, I got a call from a journalist from Bloomberg News in New York named Zachary Mider. He was asking about a specific volunteer that he claimed was a member of our agency.
For background sake, he had recently published an article about this same individual being a “reserve” for a one-man Police Department in New Mexico. His claim in that article was that the chief of that department had granted HR 218 status in exchange for funding of that department.
As it turns out, and a very long story later, the journalist was able to eventually secure documents that confirmed the individual he was seeking information about was in fact a volunteer member of that agency. Although he did not find proof or even evidence of any of his other claims, he wrote a couple of articles based on those assumptions.
I believe our agency was contacted by this journalist because of a grant that was used to fund an agency vehicle, our Taser project, and our pending handgun replacement project. The chief that was part of this journalist’s New Mexico story had also received funding from the same grant, and the individual the journalist was inquiring about was somehow associated with that grant foundation.
When the journalist contacted me, I was happy to share with him about our volunteer program, but declined to identify any of our volunteers. We also spoke about the variety of grant funding we pursue, as well as some of the donations of cash and equipment we’ve received.
That was not good enough for Mr. Mider who obviously had an ax to grind with the individual he was asking about. He submitted an open records request about three individuals that he claimed were members of our volunteer staff, all of their “personnel records,” training records, communication, etc.
Our attorney wrote me an opinion paper that covered the case law and applicable statutes that allow me not to reveal the identity of our volunteers. Along with that opinion, I specifically expressed that the reasons for my denial of the request were twofold. One, some of our volunteers specifically request to remain anonymous, and I have chosen to respect that in the same way I’d respect an anonymous donation to an office project. Two, some of them have been, are, and may be involved in some of our cases that require undercover type work. To reveal their identity publicly would not be safe for them personally or safe tactically. I expressed that the only exceptions to this denial would be for a specific criminal case to the courts where identity is required, or as a result of their permission to be identified.
I also expressed very clearly that despite his accusation or suggestion that I had a quid pro quo type arrangement, that even though I have the statutory authority to grant HR 218 status, that is not an automatic element that comes with being sworn in as a posse member in this agency. If the time were to come where HR 218 status were to be granted, it is also not permanent, but there may be times where it is appropriate for a specific case or situation, if the appropriate qualifications, training, and experience support that designation being an acceptable risk.
You should also know that this journalist continued to pester both me and our attorney fairly incessantly. He also showed his low ethical standard by continually lying to both me and our attorney about what the other was saying in an attempt to trip us up. He also told me on a number of occasions that my “office clerks” had already confirmed what he needed to know. That was the reason for my inquiry to you about him earlier.
Here are some facts for you to consider sharing if you are confronted with this recent media information:
-Just because a journalist from Bloomberg news in New York writes a story with a very specific narrative, that does not make it so. When was the last time Yuma County referred to Michael Bloomberg’s anti-gun, anti-soda, anti-sodium media outlets for useful, pertinent, and reliable information?
-We do have a volunteer program because we do not have sufficient staffing levels and need assistance to accomplish the statutory duty and mission of the Sheriff’s office.
-We have been and will continue to be creative and aggressive in our attempts to supplement our approved budget through the county. That does not mean we are “selling” or even trading anything in exchange for those resources.
-The individual that the Bloomberg reporter was so intent on identifying happens to be a billionaire. Do any of you truly believe that a billionaire is really in need of HR 218 status?
-At the end of the day we have the opportunity to remind people that there really are good people in our communities and in this country that have a sincere interest in being helpful. Some of them have the means to help in a greater and more significant way than others. No one who offers to help our agency gets some sort of magic special treatment outside of our gratefulness and commitment to be responsible and productive with whatever was provided. We are thankful for all of the people, both local and otherwise, that assist us through service and resources.
You should all be prepared for the reality that there are going to be people in our community (and have already been) that choose to not only believe the accusations that are being made by Bloomberg News, but may also choose to attempt exaggeration and the twisting of it for political purposes. As frustrating as that may be, please refer to the points of truth noted above and take some comfort in the reality that there is in fact peace in the truth.
I appreciate and am thankful for all of you, and I’m annoyed that we all have to be subject to this kind of attention when we have nothing inappropriate or damning to hide.
While it was important for the Sheriff to share this information with his staff, he also believes that it is important for our community to have the opportunity to hear the truth. Sheriff Day will continue to seek out funding sources that are beneficial to the Sheriff’s Office and Yuma County. He will gladly accept volunteer assistance and resources from a variety of competent and vetted sources, and we’re better and more prepared to accomplish our mission because of that.