Has Arizona grown tired of the man who describes himself as "America's Toughest Sheriff"?
An online campaign is gaining steam to demand the ouster of the TV-friendly Joe Arpaio in wake of allegations that his department has botched the investigation into more than 400 alleged sex crimes, many of which possibly involve children.
The petition, which currently boasts approximately 2,500 signatures, claims that the Maricopa County sheriff has "failed to protect the public and carry out his duties as an elected official in a Constitutional manner," according to Change.org.
Last week, the Associated Press published an article documenting some of the cases which Arpaio's critics claim he overlooked during the three year period leading up to 2007.
John Doughtery, a Phoenix New Times investigative journalist, who launched the campaign against Arpaio, explained his reasoning in a press release.
“Joe Arpaio has already cost Maricopa County more than $100 million in misspent funds and $43 million in settlements for claims arising from abuse in the county jails,” said Dougherty. “Since 2006 Joe Arpaio has allowed child molestation cases to take a backseat to his publicity stunts, racial profiling based roundups, campaigning, and a reality TV show. This is a clear example of government waste and abuse of power that must not be tolerated.”
Arpaio's critics have called him a "flagrant human rights violator" thanks to publicity stunts such as forcing prisoners to wear pink underwear and housing inmates in tents when his prisons reached capacity. During his tenure, Arpaio has significantly expanded the Sheriff's Posse program, a unit comprised of volunteers who assist with tasks ranging from emergency communications, traffic control, and assisting in controversial immigration sweeps.
The statement also listed several politicians who previously called for Arpaio to resign, including Rep. Raul Grijalva, as well as Arizona State Reps. Ruben Gallego and Katie Hobb. Republican senators Jon Kyl and John McCain.