Former Duncan Mayor Billy Waters is collecting signatures to recall Greenlee County Sheriff Tim Sumner.
Waters said he submitted the paperwork he needed to with the county on Thursday and is in the process of collecting the 924 signatures he needs for a special recall election. Three trusted family members will be helping him and he has until mid-January to collect the requisite number of signatures, he said.
“Only four of us are collecting signatures becauses I don’t want no mishaps. I want to make sure all of our Is are dotted and our Ts are crossed,” Waters said.
Sumner ran on a platform of integrity and accountability and Waters said that is just what he’s trying to do, hold Sumner accountable.
The turnover rate at the sheriff’s department is too high and he’s irate Sumner recently admitted to speeding regularly, Waters said.
“He said he wants to be held accountable so I’m going to hold him accountable,” Waters said. “I don’t think I’ll have any problems getting 924 signatures, I think I’ll get at least 1,300. Everybody I’ve talked to is saying the same things about the sheriff as I am. It’s not OK for him to speed just because he’s the sheriff.”
Sumner did not return a phone call or an email seeking comment.
Back in August, Sumner asked the county’s fleet manager to remove all GPS tracking system equipment from his deputies’ vehicles because he believes the equipment is providing false information as to where the vehicles are located and how fast they are going. He did so after documents were released to the media showing Sumner exceeded the speed limit multiple times on a trip to Phoenix.
Sumner said he knows the equipment is faulty for several reasons. The tracking unit uses satellites and records a vehicle’s speed in one minute intervals. In looking at the reports, there are numerous times in which it reflected he was going zero miles an hour and yet had physically moved down the road. In areas with poor connectivity, the data can not be relied upon, he said.
“Here I traveled .58 — over half a mile down the road — and I was going zero miles per hour. That is physically impossible. You can not defy the laws of nature and gravity and physics and everything else. You can’t. It’s impossible. I’m not that good,” Sumner said, pointing to the report.
In addition, Sumner said he has a calibrated and certified radar unit in his vehicle that monitors his speed to ensure he doesn’t hit more than 85 miles an hour, which could result in an excessive speed ticket. He insisted he never goes over 85 mph despite the Trackit system indicating he traveled at 88, 89 and 96 mph on that trip.
Sumner said the release of the report was orchestrated by a political rival.
Back in August Sumner said he was exploring the possibility of switching to a different system, perhaps the same one used by the county. That system is hooked directly into each individual vehicle’s computer so it’s much more accurate, Sumner said.
Sumner didn’t deny speeding at times, even when he is not racing to a call, however.
Traveling at the speed limit is actually unsafe because people get nervous, distracted and often slam on their brakes when they see a marked police car, Sumner said.
Writing a story about his driving that day is “making a mountain out of a molehill,” he said.
“It’s dangerous to go the speed limit in a fully marked patrol car. To me it’s ridiculous and crazy for me to sit here and to try to have to articulate that and explain that to somebody and it’s only Tim Sumner out of every police officer, not only in Arizona, but across this country and it’s all politically motivated,” Sumner said.
Waters, who owns Waters’ Towing in Duncan, served on the Duncan Town Council for 17 years, he served as president of Duncan Little League for seven years and has served as president of Duncan School Board.
According to the Greenlee County Elections Department, Sumner ended up with 1,333 votes or 36.30 percent of the votes in last November’s election. His nearest competitor, his former undersheriff, Eric Ellison garnered 1,203 votes or 32.76 percent of the votes.