The $10 billion Arizona Public Safety Personnel Retirement System (PSPRS) has fired its administrator for sexual harassment.
In “a decision we could not in good conscience avoid,” PSPRS board Chairman William Buividas said in a statement, the system’s board voted 8-0 to remove Jared Smout based on the results of an investigation launched by the Arizona Department of Administration.
Smout had been on paid administrative leave since April 16, and Bret Parke has been the acting administrator since then.
“To be blunt, the behavior described in the Arizona Department of Administration investigation is in no way acceptable from any employee of PSPRS, let alone the system’s top executive,” said Buividas. “We will not tolerate inappropriate workplace behavior. And, as we did with this complaint, all such allegations will be taken seriously and investigated thoroughly.”
Elizabeth Alvarado-Thorson, interim director of the Arizona Department of Administration, said in a July 15 letter to Buividas that PSPRS employees alleged Smout engaged in inappropriate physical contact, as well as inappropriate comments, and text messages, and looking at the employees inappropriately.
Smout also allegedly spied on certain employees he was attracted to via video survellience cameras that he watched sometimes for hours a day.
“Mr. Smout clearly engaged in improper and inappropriate behavior and failed to meet the expectations and requirements of his job as the Administrator of PSPRS,” said Alvarado-Thorson in the letter. “The conduct to which Mr. Smout has himself admitted does not even remotely comply with the values of PSPRS and has brought embarrassment and discredit to the state.”
In addition to recommending Smout’s employment as administrator for PSPRS be terminated immediately, Alvarado-Thorson said that Smout should not be employed in any capacity whatsoever with the state of Arizona.
Buividas credited Smout with helping “institute important changes during his tenure at PSPRS,” but added that “the organization we’re aspiring to be must demand more of its leaders than doing good work.”
He said the board and PSPRS leadership already have begun working toward revamping policies and training procedures meant to prevent and address inappropriate behavior and workplace harassment. He also said they are overhauling the system’s policies governing cybersecurity, records management and the handling of human resources complaints.
“The Board of Trustees of the Public Safety Personnel Retirement System stands united in the core principle that the leadership of our organization must be held to the highest possible standards,” said Buividas, “in the same way our communities and employers hold our police officer and fire fighter members to highest possible standards.”
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