For the first time in almost a quarter century, there is a new sheriff in town. Denying Joe Arpaio an unprecedented 7th term as sheriff, the voters of Maricopa County (Arizona) have made it official – Paul Penzone will be the new sheriff of the most populous county in the state, and the fourth most populous in the entire country. In fact, Maricopa County has a larger population than almost half the states in the U.S.
During the course of the recent political campaign, Penzone has consistently argued that Arpaio was spending his time promoting himself, rather than protecting the citizens of Phoenix and the surrounding areas.
The defeat of Arpaio comes on the heels of a finding that he was guilty of contempt in connection with a pending civil case in federal court, and of the recent request for related criminal charges to be filed against him by the United States Attorney’s Office.
Goals for the New Sheriff
Penzone has outlined over 15 objectives of his job. They do not include racial profiling, or immigration patrols – policies that were adopted by Arpaio and that caused much criticism. Some of the more interesting goals listed early on by Penzone include:
- Selecting the most qualified and talented people to fill command positions in law enforcement.
- Proper staffing of the jails.
- Comprehensive community-based policing efforts.
- Evaluation of existing programs based upon necessity and effectiveness.
- Creation of programs for the protection and education of the youth.
- Addressing the opiate and heroin epidemic.
These and other goals are laudable, of course, although not out of the ordinary. What is striking when you view the entire list is that they appear to be almost a direct response to decades of alleged cronyism, fear-based attacks, racism, and similar actions on the part of the Sheriff’s Office under Arpaio.
In an interview given after the election results were in, the Sheriff-elect talked about his challenge to Arpaio, and about high-profile lawsuits concerning the actions of the former sheriff and his key deputies. Specifically, Penzone noted that whatever the status of the cases, he would have to “own up” and address them in a way that minimizes the damage that has been done, including the financial damage. Those lawsuits have already cost the County tens of millions of dollars, including $41 million alone to defend Arpaio’s policies in the racial profiling case.
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Phoenix, AZ 85004