Court: Sheriff Joe Can Play Christmas Music
Sheriff Joe Arpaio (AP Photo)
The Washington Times via YellowBrix
December 21, 2009
The sheriff is no stranger to controversy, although his philosophy of “zero tolerance towards the criminal element” has been embraced by his deputies and the community alike. He was first elected in 1996 and was re-elected by double-digit margins in 2000, 2004 and 2008. In 2007 a petition to recall him failed to gain enough voter signatures to get on the ballot.
Become a Cop
Most recently he has come to the attention of the federal government. He was notified in March by the Justice Department that he may have unfairly targeted Hispanics and Spanish-speaking people for arrest. In October, the Department of Homeland Security revoked the authority of 160 of his federally trained deputies to make immigration arrests in the field.
The sheriff has denied any wrongdoing and has said he welcomed and would cooperate in any investigation of his office. He has continued to arrest illegal immigrants under recently passed state laws.
Tired of waiting for the federal government to secure the U.S.-Mexico border and concerned about the potential terrorism threat that the lack of border security posed, he assigned deputies in 2006 to monitor his 9,226-square-mile county for illegal immigrants. He targeted the illegals under an anti-smuggling law that state lawmakers passed to fight drug trafficking.
“My message is clear: If you come here and I catch you, you’re going straight to jail,” he said at the time. “We’re going to arrest any illegal who violates this new law, and I’m not going to turn these people over to federal authorities so they can have a free ride back to Mexico. I’ll give them a free ride to my jail.”
Sheriff Arpaio, 77, captured headlines nationwide when he set up a jail system that included tents, spent less than 15 cents per meal per inmate, and banned smoking, coffee, movies, pornographic magazines and unrestricted television in all of his jails. He also assigned both men and women to chain gangs.
The sheriff also has created several rehabilitative programs, including “Hard Knocks High,” the only accredited high school program administered by a sheriff’s office in a U.S. jail.
More recently he has been mentioned as a possible candidate for governor, with polls showing that he has a commanding lead as a Republican candidate for the November 2010 race.
A November poll by Rasmussen Reports said that of 1,200 likely Arizona voters, he was the Republicans’ “best shot at holding onto the Arizona governorship in 2010.” The poll said Sheriff Arpaio led the expected Democratic challenger, Terry Goddard, Arizona’s attorney general, by 12 points and that 64 percent of voters statewide said he was doing the right thing by working around federal law to continue his aggressive actions against illegal immigration.
Lt. Lee said his boss had received “multiple inquiries locally and nationally” about the latest Rasmussen poll, but had made no decision regarding the governor’s race.