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  • February 28, 2015

Letter to the Editor, Cooper

PCSO leadership way off with background check criticisms

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Posted: Tuesday, August 20, 2013 10:42 am

Dear Editor,

It was interesting to read PCSO employee Lt. Scott Elliott’s recent letter criticizing the Tri-Valley newspaper coverage of a series of search and rescue incidents that reflect contentious issues and different outcomes between searches conducted by the Pinal County Sheriff’s team and searches conducted by the independent all-volunteer Superstition Search and Rescue (SSAR) team.

I’m proud of the 18 years of successfully working with the previous four county sheriffs who rose through the ranks to become our county’s top law enforcement officer. That history ended with the election of the present sheriff. On first meeting him, he made it clear that he was more concerned about the political spotlight and what SSAR could do to advance his political career than what we could accomplish together assisting the citizens of Pinal who were in need. I and SSAR have done nothing during sheriff Paul Babeu’s administration to deserve anything other than respect and appreciation as evidenced by numerous awards and commendation from other segments of our community.

Moreover, it is an insulting disservice to the public, to members of SSAR and to me personally that Lt. Elliott would seek to divert the public’s attention by creating an issue without substance in asserting that their PCSO searches are somehow unsuccessful because I won’t undergo a background check by sheriff Babeu’s office.

In contrast to Elliott’s nonsensical background-check remarks, I’m proud to cite that our SSAR is a nationally accredited and proven wilderness team, which along with our FEMA urban team, currently work with a local police department, with the FBI and other law enforcement departments throughout the state when needed. Additionally, we’re also an arm of CART (Child Abduction Response Team), which searches for missing children, Alzheimer patients and others who go missing.

Arizona and Pinal County are blessed to have men and women willing to commit their skills and experience to building search and rescue groups of the highest quality. It’s been one of the great privileges of my life to work with some of these people in the Superstition Search and Rescue team and other similar units. These organizations have contributed to our civic life and provide vitally needed services. They save lives and raise up our neighbors in times of need.

Our political and law enforcement leaders have always had the wisdom to understand that volunteer groups like SSAR are a resource to be nurtured, not a threat to be obstructed and attacked. It is regrettable that the current leadership of the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office has taken a different and unconstructive course as evidenced by Lt. Elliott’s irrational response to our local media’s accurate reporting on the contrasting records of searches by the PCSO and the SSAR.

It is my hope that the public will continue to call on the Superstition Search and Rescue team whenever we can help locate missing persons in Pinal County. We are proud to serve and proud of our history of documented success and we are glad that a watchful media report accurately to the public and hold public officials responsible for their actions affecting our county’s safety and wellbeing.

Robert Cooper

Commander

Superstition Search and Rescue

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