The sheriff’s obsession with his own fame, combined with his determination to keep his job no matter what, have caused him to bend the priorities of the department to his own needs. He has politicized a law enforcement agency, and in doing so, corrupted it.
That corruption has mired the Sheriff’s Office in incompetence and negligence, and has too many of the rank and file disillusioned and disgusted.
I know this because almost three years ago I was invited to join MCSO on a part-time basis — not by the sheriff, incidentally. The idea was that I would provide a perspective different than the conservative norm of the command staff.
I recently and reluctantly resigned because voices unwilling to toe the party line are no longer welcome.
A bunker mentality rules as the walls close in, information hemorrhages to the press from numerous anonymous inside sources, and paranoia and threats from the top continue.
To understand what has happened, start by understanding that illegal immigration and the "birther" business have one fascinating thing in common: Both began as crass ploys to appeal to voters, with Arpaio’s tone hardening as he somehow, over time, convinced himself that what he was peddling was actually so.
And it worked. Millions of dollars needed for his increasingly difficult re-election campaigns rolled in, along with the media attention he so desperately craves.
There’s nothing more complicated to any of it, and neither ever had much of anything to do with MCSO’s actual responsibilities. Yet they have cost the department dearly in money and manpower—resources that could have been better deployed elsewhere.