The state Department of Public Safety's new director says he acted unprofessionally during a 2002 golf course confrontation in Prescott.
"I made a mistake," said Robert Halliday, making the admission during a Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday for his appointment by Gov. Jan Brewer.
One senator said she'd received at least one e-mail alleging that Halliday had assaulted a person during the confrontation.
Halliday denied that but said he put his arm out to fend off a homeowner as he offered to pay for a window broken by his ball.
Halliday, who was head of DPS' Criminal Investigations Division at the time, said the confrontation escalated and he "responded in a very unprofessional manner."
The Public Safety and Human Services Committee voted 5-2 to recommend confirmation by the full Senate, with two dissenting senators citing the incident.
Everybody makes mistakes, said Democratic Sen. Leah Landrum Taylor of Phoenix, "but my big problem is that this is for law enforcement."
Calling Halliday "a proven leader," Republican Sen. Linda Gray of Glendale said she believed some of the criticism of Halliday was prompted by his plan "to put more officers on the street instead of in middle management."
Halliday had told the committee he plans to cut DPS' administrative ranks to help cut costs in order to preserve front-line Highway Patrol jobs amid the state's budget troubles.