By Rusty Bradshaw
With two weeks under their belts as an unaffiliated entity, Sun City Posse leaders continue the transition.
The Posse terminated its affiliation with Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office Oct. 31. The move, which has been discussed for up to four years, came from planning by the group’s Long Range Planning Committee. Being unaffiliated gives the Posse more flexibility and allows its members and recruits to avoid the increased training mandated by District Judge G. Murray Snow relating to the Melendrez racial profiling case against former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
While the transition has not been flawless, the Posse is moving forward and conducting business as usual as much as possible.
“This is transition,” said Danny Moore, Posse treasurer. “It has been a lot of work to get where we are.”
He added Posse members could have shut down operations for a month or two while getting everything in place.
“But we wanted to continue our service to the community without interruption,” Mr. Moore said.
A visit to the Posse headquarters, 10861 W. Sunland Drive, will reveal all references to Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office are removed, including on uniforms and vehicles. Visitors will also notice a mixture of uniform types and with the vehicles.
Instead of the tan shirts and brown pants that matched MCSO uniforms, some Posse members are in the new uniforms — black pants and blue/gray polo shirts with a new Posse logo on the left breast. However, not all the new uniforms were in by last week and some members were still wearing the old-style uniforms with MCSO insignia and badge removed.
The Posse is also down to six vehicles for patrol as the other eight were being re-decaled, according to Mr. Moore.
However, the Posse may already be seeing the fruits of deaffiliation where recruitment is concerned.
“We have six new recruits and two more prospects,” Mr. Moore said.
While the Posse ended its affiliation with MCSO, they will continue to work closely with the sheriff’s office.
The break from MCSO appears to have not affected the Posse’s ability to gain financial support from the community. The organization’s annual fundraiser started in October and is seeing consistent results so far.
“We sent out 27,000 letters,” said Carol Perko, Posse fundraising coordinator. “We are starting to get some back, about 500 per day.”
Roberta Lambin, Posse executive officer, said the reaction from residents in those letters has been nearly all positive.
“We have had a few take some jabs at us, but the vast majority have been positive,” she said.
The Posse is also gearing up for its annual election of new governing board members and commander.
Nominations were announced at the Posse’s Nov. 7 regular meeting. Sergio Laurente and Mike Murphy are candidates for the commander position. Those seeking to fill seven seats on the board are Toni Ashby, Vicki Foelsch, Roberta Lambin, Fred McMeekin, Danny Moore, Richard Nonini, Gene Papineau, Jean Schmidt and John Soltis.
The positions will be filled during the election at the next Posse membership meeting 9 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 5 at Posse headquarters, according to Dave Miller, Posse Nominating Committee chairman. Members who cannot attend the meeting to vote can do so by absentee ballot available Saturday, Nov. 18. All absentee ballots must be returned by 5 p.m. Monday, Dec. 4, according to Mr. Miller.
Mr. Laurente, who was out-of-town on a family emergency and had a friend present his remarks at the Nov. 7 meeting, has been in the Posse seven years. His background includes 18 years as a state employee in accounting. He and his wife also ran a care center in Peoria until last year.
Mr. Laurente wants to help implement the new Posse structure and programs. He was described as a team player and generous with his time.
Coordinating the Posse’s buildings and grounds, Mr. Murphy was a member of the Long Range Planning Committee that prepared for the deaffiliation.
“The decision to withdraw from MCSO was not easy,” he said. “But now we can get back to our roots.”
He said the Posse currently has a good team in place, but needs more members to be more effective. He related a time when members fought over who was assigned to patrols because there were so many members they only had 2-3 rides per week.
“I want us to get back to the time when rides were limited,” Mr. Murphy said.
He has a background in fire prevention.
IF YOU GO:
What: Sun City Posse membership meeting
When: 9 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 5
Where: Posse headquarters, 10861 W. Sunland Drive