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The Bounty on Sheriff Joe

The Bounty on Sheriff Joe

PHOENIX - JULY 29: Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio speaks to the media in front of his county jail on July 29, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona, the day Arizona's immigration enforcement law SB 1070 went into effect. AP

The Chattanoogan Press via YellowBrix

August 05, 2010

Note: The Following is an Opinion Column

For several years one of my biggest heroes has been ‘Sheriff Joe,” the colorful Joe Arpaio of Arizona’s Maricopa County. If ever there was a face for Arizona’s fearless fight against illegal immigrants it is the Massachusetts-born lawman whose no-nonsense approach towards crime in Phoenix has enthralled millions just like me.

Now comes word a Mexican drug cartel has put out a $1 million bounty on the iron-fisted sheriff. That’s right; last week a Mexican drug lord from the Juarez cartel, incensed by the way Sheriff Joe’s posses are fouling up the illegal drugs his “mules” are sneaking through the desert, sent word he’d pay $1 million (in U.S. dollars, not pesos) to anyone who would bring him Joe Arpaio’s head.

“Just a million?” the 78-year-old sheriff reportedly harrumphed, “The last time I had a hit put out on me it was for $5 million. The economy must be bad down in Mexico,” he added before calmly going about this business. "I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing. It doesn’t matter to me.”

As the Obama administration continues the tangle with Arizona over the state’s proposed – and wildly popular – efforts to crack down on illegal immigrants who are flooding the country, “Sheriff Joe” continues to dole out justice his own way. When a frantic court ruling delayed Arizona from enacting its new legislation on Aug. 1, Joe’s posse did a legal sweep that first morning and caught 70 who are not American citizens.

And in the midst of the national legal wrangling and the state of California “banning” all Arizona products (except for traffic cameras), the Department of Justice is now threatening to sue “The Toughest Sheriff In America,” saying he isn’t cooperating with its investigation into alleged human rights violations.

“Sheriff Joe” is taking that in stride, too. He has just appeared in a news tape, telling a reporter he’s put up more tents where he now keeps 2,000 prisoners, and will “happily accommodate” any illegal immigrants he can catch.

“I have plenty of room for any cop that wants to arrest people," he said, but the tape’s most delicious segment comes at the end of Monday’s interview with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell where he says he would be happy to discuss immigration with President Obama.

“Why doesn’t he call me to the White House and we’ll have a little wine like he called the Cambridge police sergeant that arrested the professor,” Arpaio said. “I’ll be glad to talk and give him some advice of my 30-years in the federal government, but he won’t call me, he’s had the Justice Department investigating me.”

Oh, I love the guy who makes his prisoners wear pink boxer shorts. He has recently cut the taxpayer’s food costs by another $20,000 a year because he refuses to serve salt and pepper. His deputies even carry pink handcuffs and they march criminals to the courthouse and back!

Several years ago “Sheriff Joe” quit serving criminals coffee (“It has no nutritional value”) and his chain gangs, which clean up litter, paint over graffiti and bury the county’s indigents, now include females and juvenile law-breakers. “If you don’t like it here, don’t come back after you get out!”

The New York Times had a sobering story several weeks ago, saying this summer’s savage heat has now killed over 750 Mexicans who are illegally trying to slip across the desert border. The Maricopa County morgue is overflowing the heat is so bad.

But when human-rights activists whine that Joe Arpaio is inhumane, he snarls back, “Tell that to our solders in Iraq who are wearing full body armor in the same kind of weather!”

The same activists, you’ll remember, used a federal law that made “Sheriff Joe” return televisions to the prison population. Joe Arpaio complied, but he had the TVs altered where they would only show the G-rated movies and the Weather Channel. “Why the Weather Channel? I want ‘em to know how hot it’s going to be … this ain’t the Hilton!”

Oh, if only our nation would elect more like him in the weeks ahead.

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