In a move that should startle no Arizonan with a pulse, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio just released the results of an internal investigation into 400 mishandled sex crime investigations and–surprise!–no individuals should be held responsible, least of all the sheriff himself. Not only that, but for those individuals, like journalists, who want a copy of the report, it’ll cost $5,000, please. Make checks payable to the ‘Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office’ (MCSO). Quite a handy little money-making opportunity.
Without further comment, the Sheriff’s Office released a statement on Monday, along with the report, that said:
“The internal investigation shows that the problems were not unique to this agency and were systemic in nature… It is the policy of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office to seek continual improvement in all its operations.”
The 400 cases occurred between 2002 and 2008 and came to light through an investigation by the local newspaper, The Arizona Republic. Many of the abuses happened in the community of El Mirage, which contracted with the MCSO for law enforcement services until the uninvestigated sex crimes began to surface. The cases have recently been reopened.
One of the opportunities for the department’s “improvement” presumably arose in 2007 when, according to The Republic, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors approved $600,000 for new positions that could easily have been used for more sex-crimes detectives. The Republic wrote on Monday that:
“Sheriff’s administrators have said they have no explanation for what became of those positions, and the investigative report does not reveal where the positions went. But the report notes the impact it could have had on the unit’s five investigators, each carrying workloads of 55 to 60 cases. The new positions would have reduced those caseloads to fewer than 30 per detective.”
‘Systemic failure’, eh? And exactly who is responsible for the system if not the sheriff? This failure is only one reason that a new recall effort has been launched to remove Arpaio from office only 3 months after re-election (by the smallest margin ever) to his sixth term. The recall campaign is being led by a group called Respect Arizona. It’s chairman, William James Fisher, wrote in an editorial for The Republic on Monday:
“Respect Arizona is a grassroots organization of Republicans, Democrats, Anglos, Latinos, African-Americans, business owners and workers who are fed up with our sheriff and the mismanagement of his office. We are not extremists. We are not radicals. We are funded by mostly small donations.”
Fisher’s opinion is that, without the distraction of a national election, Arizona voters will choose to boot Arpaio out of office. In response to this drive, Arpaio asked the chair of the Maricopa County Republican Committee, A.J. LaFaro, to email an appeal for support to all Tea Partiers in the state. The email, published on Facebook by social activist Randy Parraz, is titled, “SHERIFF JOE NEEDS OUR HELP!” and says, in part:
“I am calling a ‘call to arms’ volunteer meeting of the MCRC EGC and Tea Parties* throughout Maricopa County for Saturday, 02/16…
“The purpose of the meeting is to muster and organize a ‘shadow army’ of ‘shadow warriors’ that are willing to volunteer their time to stand toe-to-toe at the majority of the locations here in Maricopa County where the paid progressive socialists are collecting petition signatures to recall Sheriff Joe… It’s estimated the “shadow army” will need to be at least 400 people in order to man all the locations that have been identified here in Maricopa County…” [400--ironic number, huh?]
“Randy Parraz, Chad Snow and the special interest groups that are behind this recall effort are nothing more than domestic terrorists who are attempting to turn Arizona dark blue so they can further their liberal agenda. These are the same thugs who wrongfully recalled Russell Pearce. We need to stop these people now.”
Wow! Maricopa County, Arizona–have you got a problem!