By Jon Johnson
PIMA – There’s a new gun in town straight out of the police academy. But this cop has made his way around the law enforcement community, working as a detention officer at the Graham County Jail and then as a dispatcher.
Officer Jason Shelton was introduced by Pima Police Chief Diane Cauthen to the Pima Town Council at its Tuesday meeting as the municipality’s newest officer. Shelton reportedly excelled in his police academy and had other police organizations, including the Tucson Police Department, looking to swoop him up.
Being sponsored by the town of Pima, however, Shelton is committed to at least beginning his career in law enforcement here. On Tuesday, he told the council that he would stick around longer than previous recruits sponsored by the town.
“I am extremely happy with officer Shelton,” Cauthen said. “He’s a small-town boy with some very good skills.”
Shelton was sworn in at the police academy last Thursday and began his shadowing training Monday. When he finishes and begins taking shifts on his own, the department will be back at full staff.
“I’m really glad to be here,” Shelton said. “So far, I love it.”
The Pima Police Department had been short-handed since the retirement of beloved officer Gary Gale in January. Pima had attempted to get a recruit through a police academy last year to fill the spot, but the recruit was injured on the first day and had to drop out.
Without having the revenue to lure officers from other jurisdictions, the PPD was in a similar situation in November 2013, when then Sgt. Stirling Shupe resigned from his position. After not being able to locate current officers to work at the department, Pima sponsored two recruits through the academy but both failed to complete the training.
The department then hired Steven Mingura, who previously worked at the Greenlee County Sheriff’s Office and Clifton Police Department. Mingura was serving as the department’s sergeant when officer Jason Ellsworth graduated from the police academy in August 2014. Mingura later left to become a deputy with the Graham County Sheriff’s Office.
Ellsworth filled the void but then he too left for employment with the Graham County Sheriff’s Office.
The Pima Police Department currently consists of four full-time officers (including Police Chief Cauthen) and two reserve officers. Officer Shelton – the department’s new recruit – is joined by Sgt. Sandra Shotwell, officer Tony Reynolds, and Cauthen. Officers Gary Graves and Preston Magby round out the department as reserve officers.
“He (Shelton) is awesome with our citizens,” Cauthen said. “He doesn’t put himself above anybody. He’s just what we needed.”
In other police news:
- The department received two grants – a $9,300 from the Tohono O’odham Nation to purchase equipment and a $6,000 grant from the Ak-Chin Indian Community for additional TAZERS and trauma kits.
- The department received a $1 auction police cruiser from Oro Valley and is looking at purchasing another one to add to its fleet.
- Reserve officer Gary Graves was acknowledged during the meeting for his efforts to equip children with glow sticks who were trick-or-treating on Halloween without flashlights.
- Town Manager Sean Lewis announced the town is looking at sending its police officers to become EMT-certified and equipping the police vehicles with some emergency life-saving equipment. Reserve officer Gary Graves is a paramedic and will assist in the program, which will go through the courses at EAC. Officer Tony Reynolds already has an EMT certification and would look at taking a refresher course.