Our guest blogger is Henry Fernandez, a Senior Fellow at the Center For American Progress Action Fund working on state and municipal issues.
Fox has done it again. Not content with Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck, Fox TV network has found its most recent “perfect fit” – Sheriff Joe Arpaio from Maricopa County, Arizona. We have previously documented Arpaio’s desire for reality show fame as well as his inability to actually solve crime — some 48,000 felony fugitives remain on the loose in his jurisdiction.
Fox’s new “Smile! You’re Under Arrest” television program is intended to project Arpaio as “America’s Toughest Sheriff.” Here’s his record.
Arpaio has diverted deputies from solving crimes to chasing immigrants — and done so with no real strategy other than to attract television cameras. Arpaio’s deputies carry out traffic stops and neighborhood sweeps that have reportedly stopped people for no greater “crime” than being brown. These sheriff deputies hope they find someone without identification who they can turn over to federal immigration officials. Arpaio even requires that victims and witnesses prove their immigration status – a sure way to get fewer whistleblowers to come forward, thus increasing crime.
Seems like an odd guy for Fox to highlight as a law enforcement icon. America’s Voice has just produced a video attempting to give Arpaio “the attention he deserves” — a federal investigation into his record:
The conservative Goldwater Institute conducted an investigation and found using FBI crime statistics that violent crimes in Maricopa County have increased 69% since 2004 and murders have increased a whopping 166%; this while nearby jurisdictions have seen either declines or small increases. Arizona’s East Valley Tribune investigated as well and found: “slower response times on emergency calls, a dropping arrest rate, and for a time, excessive overtime costs.” Even better, on September 25th, Arpaio’s jails lost accreditation, and he is now operating the jails outside Arizona law.
But some people will prosper under Arpaio’s shenanigans – those who sue the county. Between 2004 and 2007, 2,700 lawsuits have been filed against Maricopa County. The Phoenix New Times reports that:
With a fraction of the inmate population, Arpaio has had 50 times as many lawsuits as the New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston jail systems combined. … The $41.4 million taxpayers coughed up to insure for, defend, or settle lawsuits is just the edge of the cesspool — one result of inhumane conditions that have long made Arpaio’s jails the target of investigations from both the federal government and advocates like Amnesty International.