Senate panel endorses Jeffrey Glover to run DPS

Former Tempe Police Chief Jeffrey Glover on Monday did what few of Gov. Katie Hobbs’ nominees to lead state agencies have done so far: cleared a GOP-controlled Senate panel that was created this year to interrogate the governor’s appointees and has served as a roadblock for many of them. 

By a vote of 5-0 on Monday, the Senate Director Nominations Committee endorsed Glover, Gov. Katie Hobbs’ pick to lead the Arizona Department of Public Safety. 

Glover, who has worked for Tempe Police for the past 22 years, became its first African American chief in 2020, and he’s now poised to be the first African American director of DPS. He still must be confirmed by the full state Senate. 

“It would really mean a lot,” Glover said, of being named to the position, not only to himself and his own family, but to children in the community who can then see themselves in the same sort of role. 

Jake Hoffman, the Queen Creek Republican who chairs the committee, commended Glover for his direct and honest answers to the committee’s questions. This followed the committee’s most recent hearing in which Hoffman accused Elizabeth Alvarado-Thorson, Hobbs’ nominee for the Arizona Department of Administration, of dodging questions and failing to give direct answers. The committee did not end up voting on Alvarado-Thorson’s nomination, and it’s unclear when she will again go before the committee. 

Glover told senators that his vision for DPS was to make it a “highly competent and professional” organization that is a national model for other law enforcement organizations. He added that the department needs to update its technology, to help state troopers work more efficiently and to better gather intelligence.

Several of the committee’s Republican members asked Glover about Hobbs’ plan to eliminate the state’s Border Strike Force, a creation of Republican former Gov. Doucy Ducey. Through a $12.2 million budget reallocation, the Hobbs administration would get rid of the strike force, which is run by DPS, to replace it with what Hobbs is calling Local Border Support. Hobbs’ budget has not been approved by the Republican-led legislature and the process to get a budget passed is likely to be a lengthy one. 

Hobbs’ proposed reallocation would include $11 million in one-time spending that would go from the task force to grants for law enforcement agencies in border communities to “conduct border-related activities.” 

The plan to nix the strike force angered many Republicans, including Sen. Sine Kerr, of Buckeye, one of the committee members. She told Glover on Monday that she was “very upset” with the governor’s choice to get rid of it. 

Glover clarified for the committee that he was not consulted in Hobbs’ proposal to eliminate the force, but said he was dedicated to supporting local law enforcement agencies in border communities in dealing with human and drug smuggling.

“Nobody can do this by themselves,” Glover said. “At the end of the day, this problem is bigger than all of us. If we don’t tackle it together, we won’t resolve this issue.”

Glover’s plans include the potential creation of district-level interdiction squads and helping local law enforcement with technology and equipment needs, he said. 

As has been the case during the committee’s previous hearings, many of the questions posed to Glover were highly political. One such question came from Kerr about his philosophy on dealing with public protests, asking if he would stop unlawful protesters or allow them to “exhaust themselves.” 

Glover answered that a first step is to reach out to protest organizers and follow social media traffic ahead of a protest to gauge what sort of law enforcement presence and response might be appropriate. 

He added that it’s important to warn organizers ahead of a protest that people will be arrested if they break the law. 

“There is no sitting back, we have to take action,” Glover said of protesters who commit crimes. 

But he also said that he believes law enforcement should monitor peaceful protests and allow them to continue. 

In answering a question from Hoffman, Glover said he didn’t believe that Arizona police officers were “systemically racist,” but he did say that officers did have implicit bias and that some laws, no matter how well intentioned, did have outsized impacts on Black and Brown communities. 

And Glover said he did not agree with calls to defund the police. 

“I believe that’s shortsighted,” he said, adding that the philosophy has not worked well in departments that have done it. 

“They defund and then have to refund at a very high price,” Glover added. 

Hoffman and Republican Sen. T.J. Shope both asked Glover about a rumor that he planned to bring Tempe’s Assistant Chief Andre Anderson with him to DPS, but planned to hire Anderson only after Glover was confirmed as director. Glover said that wasn’t true.

“I’m pretty happy with the team I have here,” Glover said, adding that he has no plans to overhaul the leadership team at DPS. 

Anderson was hired as the interim police chief to help turn things around at the Ferguson, Missouri, police department in 2015 following a U.S. Department of Justice investigation that found a culture of racism in Ferguson’s police department. The federal probe followed the 2014 police shooting in Ferguson of Black teenager Michael Brown, which sparked nationwide protests against police violence. 

Shope pointed out that Anderson had been suspended three times within a 12-month period in 1996 and 1997 while working for the Glendale Police Department for conducting personal business on city time and falsifying documents while serving on a Drug Enforcement Administration task force. 

Democratic Sen. Lela Alston, of Phoenix, lauded Glover for some of the changes implemented during his time as Tempe chief, some of which he said came as recommendation from the city’s Public Safety Task Force. 

Glover said that while some great recommendations came out of the task force, including sending mental health professionals to some calls for service in place of or along with officers, and allowing administrative workers to take some low level calls, like lawn mower thefts, he added that many of the task force’s suggestions were unimplementable because they violated state law. He added that he found the listening sessions with the task force to be helpful, especially when it came to hearing various perspectives on policing. 

The members of the committee, and several members of the public who spoke in Glover’s favor, sang his praises. 

Joe Clure, executive director of the Arizona Police Association, described Glover as thoughtful, open-minded and willing to hear various viewpoints. 

Rob Ferraro, the president of the Tempe Officers Association, in a statement called him “the best police chief I’ve ever worked with.”

“Everything I’ve heard has been nothing but positive,” Shope said of Glover. “I can tell you, as a Mexican-American, I’m honored to vote for someone who may look like someone they’re trying to police.”

Hobbs spokeswoman: Is Jake Hoffman being sexist?

Both Glover and Thomas Torres, Hobbs’ nominee for director of the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management, received a unanimous OK from the Senate Direction Nominations Committee on Monday. 

The Republican senators on the committee, led by Jake Hoffman, sang the praises of both men for answering their questions in a straightforward and honest manner. 

This comes after Hoffman accused Elizabeth Alvarado-Thorson, Hobbs’ nominee for the Arizona Department of Administration, of being evasive during her testimony before the committee, and the committee harshly criticized Hobbs’ nominee to lead the Arizona Department of Health Services. Hoffman and the panel’s Republicans ultimately rejected Dr. Theresa Cullen, the former Pima County director of public health, as the department director after she answered difficult questions from the committee and was accused of contributing to an increase in depression and suicide among children because of her handling of the county’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Shortly after the hearing, Hobbs withdrew Cullen’s nomination.

“Hoffman has accused every single one of our female nominees of being a liar, while he thanked the men today for being honest,” Hobbs spokeswoman Josselyn Berry tweeted on Monday. “I wonder if GOP leadership share Hoffman’s stance that all our women nominees are liars?”

On the same day that Alvarado-Thorson’s confirmation was put on hold, the committee voted 5-0 to forward the nomination of Jennifer Toth as the director of the Department of Transportation to the full Senate for review.

Comments are closed.