Less than two weeks after Citizens for a Better Arizona announced their intent to form the nation's first ever "Citizens Posse" to hold infamous Sheriff Joe Arpaio accountable for gross abuses of power and civil rights violations, an alarming new investigation just released by the Associated Press has found that hundreds of reported sex crimes, including child molestation, have fallen through the cracks of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.
Sheriff Joe Arpaio may have found time to set up a new posse to check President Obama's birth certificate, launch an armed "air posse" to hunt down migrants from the sky, and stroll the New Hampshire streets with failing Republican presidential candidate Gov. Rick Perry last week, but the sheriff's office "failed to follow through," according to the AP, on at least "32 reported child molestations -- with victims as young as 2 years old."
In truth, reports on Arpaio's extraordinary incompetence and oversight on sexual abuse cases have been well-documented for months -- an ABC15 investigation earlier in the spring noted that "children who had the courage to come forward and say they were molested, raped or abused were simply ignored by Maricopa County Sheriff's Office detectives."
As part of a groundswell of outrage, U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) called for Arpaio's immediate resignation in a released statement today:
"This nothing-to-see-here attitude is the worst kind of unaccountable arrogance, and Mr. Arpaio needs to step down before any more damage is done to public confidence in our law enforcement and justice system," Grijalva said. "The picture emerging -- no follow-up, no investigation, no prosecution, no justice and a shield of silence after the fact -- is not how we conduct law enforcement in this country. 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.
"Mr. Arpaio might love headline-grabbing crackdowns and theatrical media appearances, but when it comes to the everyday work of keeping people safe, he seems to have lost interest some time ago. He should give the affected families a sense that justice is finally being done by taking the honorable route and resigning now."
As Phoenix New Times reporter Stephen Lemons noted last week, Arpaio is also facing an upcoming federal court hearing on racial profiling and civil rights violations.
Even right-wing newscaster Glenn Beck openly mocked Arpaio for his blatant racist profiling tactics in 2009, when the sheriff was dropped from the federal 287 (g) enforcement program. Defiant of federal authority, Arpaio told Beck he had the right to "enforce" certain laws, when "some people who have an erratic, scared...whatever...if they have their speech, what they look like, if they look like they come from another country, we can take care of that situation."
Earlier this fall, the Citizens for a Better Arizona organized the extraordinary recall and election defeat of former state senate President Russell Pearce, an anti-immigrant extremist supported by Arpaio.
In a special press conference on Nov. 21 in front of the Arizona State Capitol, Citizens co-founder Randy Parraz and other supporters warned Arpaio of their intent to serve as a "Citizen's Posse" and watchdog of the sheriff's long-time alleged misuse of county funds, civil rights violations and reality-TV antics. In 2009, reporters from the East Valley Tribune won a Pulitzer Prize for their series, "Reasonable Doubt," on the human and economic costs of Arpaio's reckless operations.
As part of an upcoming January convention, Parraz said the Citizens group would focus on four areas:
1 Asked that Gov. Brewer apologize for intervening in the redistricting process
2. Asked the Gov. to call a special session to extend unemployment benefits to Arizonans out of work
3. Announced the formation of a Citizens Posse to take on the work of holding Sheriff Arpaio accountable over the next 12 months
4. Announced the recruitment of 5,000 volunteers to commit to gathering 100 signatures to determine if support exists to recall Gov. Brewer; until 5,000 volunteers sign up and make the pledge there will be no recall.
Another key human rights organization in Phoenix, Puente, has also launched a new watchdog campaign against Arpaio.
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