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Sheriff Joe's non-apology apology fuels calls for resignation

by Bob Morris, published

One would think that if a sheriff had botched investigations of sex crimes against children and that this became public, that he might make a genuine apology. Instead Sheriff Joe Arpaio responded to the growing criticism of his department ignoring 400 sex-crimes (mostly against immigrants) with a callous "If there were any victims, I apologize to those victims." Well of course there were victims. How could there not have been?

Retired El Mirage Assistant Police Chief Bill Louis says in a devastating article in The Arizona Republic that he has "first-hand knowledge of the incredible level of neglect on the part of Sheriff Joe Arpaio," and that Arpaio knows full well there were many victims and knows who they are. When El Mirage took over police services from The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, Louis ordered a random review of sex crimes cases and found MCSO had not completed any of them, and that most had no activity past the initial interview. He refused to send the cases back to MCSO, even though they requested them, because he had "little confidence" in their ability to handle them properly. El Mirage investigated the cases, sent documentation to Sheriff Arpaio, who then criticized El Mirage for doing genuine and competent police work. Louis says "That was nearly three years ago and Arpaio apparently still has not concluded his internal investigation. It seems that only when this issue is brought back onto the radar screen does Arpaio remember he was supposed to investigate it internally."

Such deliberate and willful neglect is unfathomable. Hundreds of children were probably molested yet MCSO couldn't be bothered to investigate. Since many of the victims were Latino, this clearly leaves them open to charges of racism, and if so, then it is clearly institutionalized there. But there's an even more disturbing element here. Despite all the macho strutting that MCSO does, claiming to be the toughest around and implying they get the job done, it's painfully obvious that they don't. Hundreds of investigations into serious crimes were ignored. This is not toughness but rather is incompetence. MCSO, except for their unending focus on illegal immigrants, just aren't very good at what they do.

Both Arizona senators say they are concerned about Sheriff Joe's inability to conduct sex crime investigations. While they haven't as yet called for his resignation, they would support federal investigations to examine the cases. Problems in a sheriff department don't usually cause US senators to comment. For them to say the feds should investigate clearly implies they think MCSO is not capable of doing so themselves. Others, mostly Democrats, have called for Arpaio to resign. This has gone way beyond being a local Arizona issue and is now getting national coverage.

Meanwhile, Sheriff Joe says he'll hold deputies responsible (if he can ever determine who they were, that is) and that unspecified other law enforcement agencies have the same problems too. He also blames his many enemies for making an issue out of MCSO ignoring hundreds of sex crimes against children. Does he ever take responsibility for anything?

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