Joe Brugman

Safford Police Chief Joe Brugman reads “ ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” at the library’s annual Holiday Open House.

SAFFORD — After nearly six years as Safford top cop, Joe Brugman has announced it’s time for a change.

Brugman announced Tuesday his retirement effective this Friday, citing health issues.

“After working 36 years in the public safety sector, I am retiring. I have personal health issues that I need to focus on. I have fond memories of many years spent at my previous agencies, but my nearly six years with the Safford Police Department have been the most rewarding of my law enforcement career,” he said in a prepared statement.

After Chief John Griffin retired in 2014, Brugman was selected by the Safford City Council to be the new chief in June of that year.

“I have known Joe Brugman during the time I have been sitting on the Safford City Council. He has been asset to the community and Safford Police Department, bringing excellent police-community relations and administrative law enforcement experience to the Gila Valley. I’m happy for him on his retirement and I feel his officers will carry on his legacy,” said Safford City Councilman Mike Andazola.

Brugman, a Gila Valley native, began his law enforcement career with the Chandler Police Department in 1985, retiring in 2010 as a precinct commander. He became Coolidge’s chief of police in July that same year, holding that position until moving back to Safford to take the chief’s position here.

“It has been an honor, a privilege and a pleasure to serve the citizens of Safford. I have had the opportunity to build friendships with members of the community and co-workers that will last a lifetime,” he said. “I am very proud of the Safford Police Department and what it has become during these years, all of which was accomplished by the incredible men and women, sworn and civilian, of our agency.

Skeete said the process to find a new chief was initiated Monday when Brugman informed the City Council of his retirement.

“The City Council has agreed to start recruitment (for a new chief),” Skeete told the Courier. “The plan is to have somebody in place as soon as possible. Over the next three months we will be interviewing candidates, and we should have an idea of who that person should be in that time frame.”

“The city should find a police chief that is someone who is humble and committed to being a good community partner. That person should also have education, leadership skills, training and administrative background,” Andazola said.

“I am hopeful that the next chief will build on the platform our department has initiated and take it to even greater heights. It’s a comfort to know that I will leave the police department in the very capable hands of a dedicated, highly trained and caring team of employees who know the community well and understand and respect the needs of our citizens and city leaders,” Brugman said.

“I thank the amazing community of Safford for all your support. I thank Mayor Kouts, as well as the past and present mayor and council members, for their unwavering support for public safety. I also want to thank our City Manager, Horatio Skeete, for his leadership and constant striving to make Safford a better place to live and work. A special thank you to all the city department heads for allowing me to work side by side with them and share a common vision to provide the best services possible to an outstanding community.

“Last, but not least, I wish the very best to the police officers and civilian personnel that make up the Safford Police Department. They have a very difficult job. I respect and admire them for their dedication and call to duty to protect and serve the members of our community. Our police officers and staff truly care for the citizens of Safford. God bless Safford and the Safford Police Department. Thank you for allowing me the privilege to serve as your police chief.”

As of Friday, Capt. Glenn Orr will assume the role of interim chief of police.

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