News Flash

MCAO Latest News

Posted on: May 12, 2020

Working Around the Clock to Serve the Community

Doug, Tony and Erlinda

Did you know the Public Safety Liaisons at the MCAO are on call 24/7/365 to respond to first responder critical incidents, including officer-involved shootings? These are live, developing scenes, often in the middle of the night, that threaten the safety of our community. Our team of seasoned law enforcement liaisons are on sight, collaborating with officers and emergency personnel, and providing technical assistance during the investigation if needed. The primary duty of this team is to analyze the criminal investigation, review the evidence and convene the Critical Incident Review Committee to make a recommendation to the County Attorney whether the actions by a first responder violate state law.

The Public Safety Liaison Detail team has a very difficult but crucial responsibility within MCAO and for our community, working with all of the over 30 law enforcement agencies in Maricopa County.

They analyze all officer-involved shootings, in-custody deaths—or deaths that occur during arrest or in detention—and incidents of serious traffic collisions involving first responders. They are also responsible for compiling the Maricopa County R15DD, commonly referred to as the ‘Brady List,’ committee meetings, and the Critical Incident Review Committee.

“We are dealing with the most difficult decision a police officer has to make and its incumbent upon us to be objective, fair, impartial, and gather all the facts before making any decision on the lawfulness of the officer’s actions,” said Liaison Tony Polse. He added, “But we have a process in place that ensures full, thorough, fair and impartial investigations so the police officers and the public can be assured that the incident has been properly investigated and all the facts are present before MCAO reviewing the case.”

We previously introduced you to Tom Van Dorn who leads the Public Safety Liaison team and now also serves as Director of the Investigations Department. You can read about him here:

But we’d like you to meet the other members of this incredible team:

Tony Polse has been with MCAO since October of 2018. He is a former police officer, former assistant state’s attorney, and was a labor lawyer representing police officers in contract negotiations, disciplinary hearings, and officer-involved shootings. Originally from Chicago, he moved to Arizona almost five years ago to take a position as the police legal advisor for the Mesa Police Department.

In the course of his duties with Mesa PD, he had the opportunity to interact with Deputy County Attorneys for MCAO on several occasions. So, when a Law Enforcement Liaison position opened up with MCAO, he knew it would be a good fit for his skills and experience.

Doug Schwab has practiced law in Maricopa County for 21 years, 10 of those with MCAO. He began his career in this office, then left for a time to work in private practice. He was recruited back to MCAO’s Civil Services Division to work on litigation and compliance with the Maricopa County Sherriff’s office.

During his service with MCAO, he’s held many different positions as a Deputy County Attorney including time as a prosecutor in Family Violence and Sex Crimes. He is the only current employee to have worked both as a criminal prosecutor and with the Civil Services Division. He’s a firearms instructor and coordinates firearms training for prosecutors.

The team also boasts two unheralded, behind-the-scenes, superstars who are responsible for many of the integral duties on the team.

Paralegal Megan Morley

Since 2005, Paralegal Megan Morley has been reviewing these police incidents and preparing and summarizing all officer-involved shootings and in-custody deaths within Maricopa County. She pulls all the materials together to form a cohesive narrative. “In other words,” says Megan, “it is like putting a 1000-page jigsaw puzzle together.”

“My 15 years with the Public Safety Liaison team has been a privilege,” said Megan.

Erlinda Parrish has 29 years of experience working in a prosecutor’s office. Initially, with Riverside County, California she has been with MCAO for the last 13 years. Erlinda moved to the Phoenix area in 2006 and came to our office because she wanted to continue her career in the same field.

She provides support for the Public Safety Liaison team with critical incident cases, Rule 15 Disclosure Database cases, conflict matters, and is the point of contact for law enforcement agencies and prosecuting offices with MCAO.

According to Erlinda, “the Liaison Detail has a very unique commitment both to the law enforcement community and to the public. I truly appreciate the importance of open communication and a good working relationship with the agencies while still holding them accountable for their actions. It gives me a good feeling that we are all doing the best for everyone involved.”

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