Share This Page

Retired law enforcement officials back efforts to recall Ariz. sheriff Arpaio

| Thursday, March 28, 2013, 8:48 p.m.

PHOENIX — Several retired law enforcement officials have joined the recall effort against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, criticizing him for using what they consider scare tactics to raise money to fight the recall.

Respect Arizona is in the process of gathering signatures for a vote to oust the six-term Republican sheriff, who became a national icon in the illegal-immigration enforcement movement during the past decade.

The group obtained a letter — signed by Arpaio and paid for by the Elect Sheriff Joe Arpaio campaign — that was emailed to conservative supporters soliciting donations to help fight the recall. In the letter, Arpaio said the county's public safety was at stake.

Without Arpaio, those who would be in danger include single mothers whose children face “a rampant drug culture,” a hypothetical mother of a child killed by a drug dealer not kept in jail after an Arpaio ouster and small-business owners whose livelihoods would be threatened by illegal immigrants taking control of their neighborhoods, according to the letter.

Respect Arizona released statements from two retired Phoenix police officials, former Chief Jack Harris and former Assistant Police Chief Bill Louis, accusing Arpaio of misleading supporters by taking sole credit for community safety. The former U.S. attorney for Arizona, Paul Charlton, and former Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard also were quoted in the group's statements.

“Arizona law enforcement will continue to fight crime and ensure public safety long after Mr. Arpaio leaves office,” Harris said in his statement.

Two other retired law enforcement officers and former Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon echoed those sentiments in person. In a news conference on Wednesday, they called Arpaio's fundraising letter disingenuous.

“Elected officials come and go, and the state moves on,” Gordon said. Arpaio was elected Maricopa County sheriff in 1992 and was re-elected to his sixth term last year with 51.5 percent of the vote, 7.5 percentage points more than his Democratic opponent but 3.7 percentage points less than his 2008 win.

Arpaio's camp defended the statements in his letter.

Chad Willems, manager for the Elect Sheriff Joe Arpaio campaign, said there “would most certainly be consequences negatively impacting law enforcement” if Arpaio were recalled. Fewer illegal immigrants would be apprehended or turned over for deportation, and citizens would be less safe because crimes associated with illegal immigration could increase, he claimed.

“If it doesn't matter who the elected official is, then why do they want to remove Arpaio from office? They want him out of office precisely because of the way he runs his office, specifically as it relates to enforcing illegal immigration laws,” Willems said in an email to The Arizona Republic.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.