This week's announcement that Joe Arpaio had abruptly broken off talks with the Department of Justice over alleged discrimination and civil rights violations should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with his stale act. Throughout nearly two decades of holding office, Arpaio has consistently been unable to acknowledge his repeated failures or be held accountable for his mismanagement and lack of leadership.
For instance, it was recently determined that his office had mismanaged the budget and staff to the extent that more than 400 sex crimes investigations were mishandled. In true Joe form, his initial reactions were to argue over the exact number, quibble about jurisdictions, point out cases in other organizations and then finally send staff out in front to answer the tough questions.
This ongoing defiance continues to hurt taxpayers to the tune of over $50 million and growing, and diverts vital resources away from public safety and into defending his own public image and legacy.
Now, rather than show leadership and answer to these serious allegations of abusing citizens'' rights, he is resorting to his standard tactic of playing the role of the victim. In his world, people don't stand up to him and against him because of any wrongdoing on his part, only because of political agendas.
Arpaio is not the victim here. The true victims are the people here in Maricopa County who for too long have tolerated a sheriff more interested in sideshows and his own ego than in professional law enforcement and public safety. Now the years of mismanagement and disregard for those he is tasked with protecting are finally catching up with him.
Without coincidence, the timing of Arpaio's sudden foray into birtherism comes during impending court battles and possibly indictments from both the DOJ and a local grand jury. Questions of jurisdiction aside, if Arpaio truly believed that there were serious allegations into the validity of the president's birth certificate, he would have been duty bound to use actual sworn law enforcement officers in a proper investigation. Instead, he purposefully uses "non-paid" civilian volunteers so that he feels covered on what he knows is a dead end use of taxpayer resources.
Arpaio believes that enough people will buy into his line that these looming indictments are a result of his investigation into the president. In reality, the allegations of abuses have been going on for many years and the federal investigation began under the Bush Administration, but Arpaio continues to repeat this falsehood to cover his newly-invented scenario of DOJ payback.
The self-appointed "toughest sheriff" has become too tough to stomach for more and more residents of Maricopa County, and the frantic desperation seen from Arpaio recently is in response to this mounting pressure and backlash.
Professional law enforcement does not tolerate civil rights violations or excuse unprofessional practices by staff. Rather, it collaborates with other agencies to provide our community with the highest level of professionalism, integrity and commitment. It is time we had a sheriff who holds criminals accountable, is an exceptional steward of taxpayer dollars and makes Maricopa County the safest county in America.
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