Joe Arpaio: America’s toughest sheriff or America’s worst sheriff?
By End the Lie
Joe Arpaio, the man who likes to call himself “America’s toughest sheriff” is now coming under fire for what one would not expect from someone going by such a title: failing to investigate over 400 sex-crimes including dozens of cases of alleged child molestation.
Arpaio is so proud of his claim that he even titled his own autobiography Joe’s Law: America’s Toughest Sheriff Takes on Illegal Immigration, Drugs and Everything Else That Threatens America, but this recent revelation brings all of that into extreme doubt.
The Associated Press reported yesterday that during a 3-year period ending in 2007, hundreds of sex-crimes were either inadequately investigated or even left totally uninvestigated.
In a city in the northwestern metro Phoenix, Arizona area where Arpaio’s department was contracted to provide police services, at least 32 reported child molestations were not followed through according to city officials.
It gets even more disturbing when one considers that the suspects were known to police in all but six of the alleged child molestation cases, yet his office still failed to properly follow through with the investigation.
One might justify such actions if there were no leads whatsoever and the suspects were totally mysterious, yet when the suspects were known to police there is no excuse whatsoever.
I would disagree with the contention that anything should stop the investigation of sex-crimes, especially when it comes to child molestation, seeing that countless taxpayer dollars are spent every year investigating victimless crimes like the use or cultivation of cannabis for personal use.
According to the Associated Press, Arpaio has acknowledged that his office completed an internal investigation into the improper and inadequate investigations, yet he declined to elaborate on the inquiry, leaving far too many questions unanswered.
Did they find anything? Are they going to do anything? Or is Arpaio going to continue to pretend to be the toughest sheriff in America while alleged child molesters walk the streets?
A retired police official from the city of El Mirage, Arizona, where Arpaio’s office was contracted, said that upon reviewing the files he realized that many of the victims were children of illegal immigrants.
Arpaio has previously come under fire for his extreme stance on illegal immigration, leading to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement revoking the authority of his deputies to arrest people on immigration violations in the field back in 2009.
One would not be out of line in wondering if his inaction in these alleged cases of child molestation could possibly be related to his often controversial stance on undocumented immigrants.
It is quite clear to me, and hopefully all of America, that you can’t hide behind tactics like putting prisoners in outdoor tents or making them wear pink underwear when your office is allowing child molestation cases and other sex-crimes to go uninvestigated.
Apparently Arpaio realizes this, as evidenced by his apology today to the victims of his failure to follow through with hundreds of cases.
The Associated Press is reporting that his office said the 432 sex-crime investigations from El Mirage and other parts of the county were being reopened.
They claim that they are doing this “after his office learned of cases – including dozens of alleged child molestations – that hadn’t been investigated adequately or weren’t examined at all,” which makes one wonder, how on Earth could a department not be aware of such criminal negligence?
One comment from Arpaio reflected why this might have happened, “If there were any victims, I apologize to those victims,” he said.
Why would someone preface such an apology with “If there were any victims,” unless he believed that there weren’t actually any victims?
Why not just say, “I apologize to any and all victims of crimes that were neglected by my department,” instead of implying that all of the cases might be false police reports?
Gawker has created a brief list of the things that Arpaio has been doing instead of investigating these hundreds of alleged sex-crimes which include:
- Investing taxpayer dollars in brand-new fluorescent pink handcuffs for jail inmates
- Misspending money (toughly!)
- Receiving favorable ratings in polls
- Jailing alt-weekly executives
- Sending out posses to round up the browns
- Pushing for random drug testing in schools
- In April 2005, his office “raid[ed] a Mesa towing company operated by men who supported a political rival in the 2004 election. Two hundred boxes of documents seized”
- Making inmates learn patriotic songs in the Americanese language
- Running for reelection
And in more recent events, instead of doing his job he is busy giving speeches and having people who disagree with him arrested despite that pesky thing called free speech as you can see in this video filmed on April 15th of this year during a Phoenix Tea Party rally on the front lawn of the Arizona State Capitol in Phoenix, Arizona.
Jerry Sheridan, the Chief Deputy Sheriff, said that they were “poised to take possible disciplinary action as early as this week against the employees responsible for the cases.” [My emphasis.]
Thus far the reopened cases have resulted in 19 arrests, which the sheriff’s office claims is an average number consistent with the number of arrests for sex-crimes made so far this year in the county.
Yet the individual in charge of criminal investigations, Captain Steve Whitney, said that there could have been more arrests if the investigations were carried out in a timely manner.
The fact that they’re claiming it is a normal number makes me wonder if they have a habit of considering sex-crime allegations to be frivolous or not worth following through with, thus giving them such a low figure.
Sheridan said that due to the pending (possible) disciplinary action he could not elaborate on why the cases weren’t investigated, yet he did acknowledge that individuals within the sheriff’s office had made mistakes.
“Once initial information came out, some detectives decided not to follow up,” Sheridan said while failing to explain what exactly this “initial information” was which caused the detectives to drop investigations.
One might postulate that the initial information Sheridan mentioned was that the victims were children of undocumented immigrants, although the lack of details makes this pure speculation at this point.
Whitney claims that since 2007 the sheriffs have made changes to how they track cases in an attempt to do a better job, while also providing more training and moving some employees out of the sex-crimes squad.
This begs the question: why weren’t these useless, borderline criminal, employees fired the second these egregious failures were discovered?
Would Arpaio be so lenient if the cases left uninvestigated were related to his pet causes of illegal immigration and drugs?
Congressman Raul Grijalva, a Democrat, issued a public statement that said the sheriff should tender his resignation immediately before the American peoples’ confidence in law enforcement is degraded any further.
“Enforcing laws against violent crime, whatever a victim’s legal status, is mandatory and not something we leave to individual communities as an open question. Selective enforcement undermines respect for our brave legal officers and is rightly not tolerated by the public,” Grijalva said.
However, I might argue that the confidence of the American people in our law enforcement should already be quite low, given the countless examples of police wasting immense taxpayer dollars to infiltrate the Occupy Los Angeles movement or paying 1,400 police officers to break up a peaceful protest.
Although I definitely agree that eroding what little trust we have in law enforcement is far from a good idea.
Arpaio displayed his absurd and unfounded arrogance in responding to Grijalva’s criticism by saying, “I am not going anywhere.”
According to the Associated Press, of the 428 reopened investigations that have been completed, 116 supposedly had no basis in fact to move forward or had aspects that did not add up.
More than 220 were either turned down by prosecutors or didn’t have sufficient evidence to bring the case to prosecutors in the first place.
69 of the cases did not have information which could be further pursued or otherwise couldn’t be advanced further.
Are we really supposed to trust these claims made by an office that systematically ignored hundreds of cases for a period of years?
Personally, I believe the only way to bring about any justice in this situation is to force Arpaio, who should now be calling himself “worst sheriff in America” or “most negligent sheriff in America,” to resign from his position.
Every individual involved with neglecting these sex-crimes should be removed from their position and replaced with competent investigators who can reopen these cases and investigate them in an impartial manner.
Hopefully the growing coverage of Arpaio’s egregious failures will shame him so much in the public eye that he will be forced to resign in disgrace.
Barring that possibility, we can only hope that the people of Arizona will not be foolish enough to vote him back in when he runs again.