Steven D. Ray faces action by state certification board
Resigned after more than 20 years in uniform
PHOENIX – The fate of former Cochise County Sheriff’s deputy Steven D. Ray’s police certification will be determined May 17. That is when the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training board will decide whether to accept a consent agreement negotiated between Ray and AZPOST staff.
Ray, age 44, resigned as a master deputy from the sheriff’s office effective January 16 after more than 17 years of service. He was an officer with Bisbee Police Dept. for four years before joining CCSO in November 1999.
According to AZPOST documents, Ray was the focus of an investigation into several incidents, including an aggravated assault case on Border Road. Other incidents involved an assigned background investigation, a prohibited possessor investigation, and “deception” involving the federally-funded Operation Stonegarden grant program.
Additional documentation about the investigation and the AZPOST consent decree will be made available at the board’s meeting in Phoenix. It is unclear whether any of Ray’s activities have been referred for criminal prosecution.
AZPOST is responsible for the certification of more than 14,500 sworn officers and 6,500 correctional officers working for 160 law enforcement agencies within the state. Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels serves as one of AZPOST’s 10 board members.
Burkholder: Certification revoked months before prison sentence
In January, the board permanently revoked the certification of former CCSO deputy Israel Burkholder. The veteran deputy resigned in March 2015 following an internal investigation of his misuse of prescription drugs during which Burkholder admitted to using narcotic pain medication while on-duty.
An AZPOST compliance specialist noted in her report that the CCSO investigation determined Burkholder was “dispensed a total of 474 prescription only narcotic pain pills from November 1, 2014 through December 29, 2014.”
Last month Burkholder was sentenced to 10 years in prison for conspiracy to commit aggravated assault, in a case unrelated to his tenure with CCSO. He must also serve four years on probation for a drug conviction.
Sheriff Dannels recused himself from voting on Burkholder’s revocation.
Ortega: Douglas criminal investigation leads to POST review
The state certification of former City of Douglas police sergeant Oscar Ortega remains in question, more than 18 months after he resigned. Ortega gave up his position in October 2015 in the aftermath of his wife’s conviction for theft from the department’s Explorer Post account and forging her husband’s signature on checks from the Douglas Police Association account.
Ortega worked for the City of Douglas for a decade. Prior to that he worked with the Arizona Dept. of Transportation’s Enforcement and Compliance Division for four years.
According to AZPOST records, there were no prior issues with Ortega’s certification.
Contact reporter Terri Jo Neff at 520-508-3660 or firstname.lastname@example.org