Arpaio bills himself as “America’s Toughest Sheriff.” He’s the bombastic sheriff of a border state community with many fears about America’s porous border with Mexico and crimes committed by undocumented people from other countries. Long the darling of conservative groups, Arpaio is a frequent guest on the cable news stations.
Sheriff Arpaio has been investigated twice by Congress for civil rights violations. His constituents re-elect him again and again because of his “get tough on crime” stance which includes feeding inmates only bologna sandwiches, housing then in outdoor tent cities with no air conditioning in the Arizona heat, and clothing male inmates in pink prison garb.
El Mirage, Arizona was a city with a troubled police department. Arpaio contracted to provide public safety services to them and some other Arizona communities. One of those communities complete disbanded their 47-member police department to save money.
However, despite his zeal for getting tough on crime, his agency reportedly mishandled over 430 sex crime cases from 2004 to 2007. These cases were either investigated in a negligent manner or not investigated at all. The cases have subsequently been re-opened. In one city alone, 32 child molestations were not pursued. Some of the cases under scrutiny had identified suspects. A retired police official advised that many of the botched cases were perpetrated against illegal aliens. To date, 19 arrests have been made as the cases have been re-opened.
Members of Congress representing Arizona have called for Arpaio’s resignation. Arpaio apologizes “if there were any victims,” but has no intention of resigning.
What do you think? Is a sheriff whose agency failed to pursue over 400 sex crimes fit to be the senior law enforcement official in a county?
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