America's Toughest Sheriff Hosting 'Mugshot of the Day'
The Daily Mail via YellowBrix
April 20, 2011
MARICOPA COUNTY, AZ – He is known for dressing inmates in pink underwear and feeding them green baloney.
And now America’s toughest Sheriff has come up with a new initiative to give the public a voice in law enforcement – an online Mugshot of the Day competition.
Arizona-based Joe Arpaio, known for his uncompromising stance on crime, is letting the public browse through the mugshots of those arrested each day and then vote for their favorite.
The Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff says he hopes the increased Web traffic will highlight the work of his employees.
He also says more crimes may be uncovered if the public can view the photos.
The top picks so far aren’t unexpected: They’re the most disheveled, unusual looking people among those booked into an Arizona jail.
And while the new scheme may be controversial, it has the overwhelming backing of those using the site, with 4102 out of the 4964 people who have voted so far agreeing with Arpaio.
Visitors to the Sheriff’s page mcso.org are greeted with the day’s current most popular shot.
The top seven most popular pictures are displayed first.
Users can also sort those arrested by crime, picking via a menu ranging from sexual offenses to assault.
Last month Arpaio was criticized for raiding a suspected cock fighting farm with a SWAT team, a bomb robot, two armored vehicles, and action movie star Steven Segal.
Jesus Llovera, 42, was arrested for cockfighting after the operation involving Steven Seagal, 58, who drove a tank onto the property as he shot a reality television show.
The Sheriff also came under fire in 2008 for his controversial stance on illegal immigrants.
He was accused of dispatching teams of sheriff’s deputies into Hispanic communities where they stopped and arrested anyone who could not prove he or she was a legal U.S. resident.
The tactic drew heavy criticism from Hispanic activists, local lawmakers and the Phoenix mayor, who called the crackdown on immigrants a clear case of racial profiling in which only people who looked Hispanic were targeted.
And this month an examination of Maricopa County’s finances found that the sheriff’s office, inappropriately spent $99 million from two jail funds over the last eight years to pay for other law enforcement operations – including immigration patrols.
The $99 million figure is an update to an estimate made in September by budget officials who said the sheriff’s office was believed to have used $60 million and $80 million over four or five years from a jail tax on other purposes.
Since then, officials said they discovered that the sheriff’s office had inappropriately spent money from a second jail.
The findings by county budget officials discussed at a meeting Wednesday were sent to federal prosecutors who were already investigating Arpaio on abuse of power allegations.
The mugshot initiative is just one of a long list of unorthodox methods employed by the notorious Sheriff.
According to the Maricopa County website, Arpaio served in the U.S. Army from 1950 to 1953 before working as a policeman in Washington, D.C. and Las Vegas.
He rose to worldwide fame In August 1993, when he started the nation’s largest Tent City for convicted inmates.
Nearly two thousand convicted men and women now serve their sentences in the temporary canvas city, sweltering in the unrelenting heat.
During the summer of 2003, when outside temperatures exceeded 43 °C, Arpaio famously said to complaining inmates, ’It’s 120 degrees in Iraq and the soldiers are living in tents, have to wear full body armor, and they didn’t commit any crimes, so shut your mouths.’
He is also known for bringing back chain gangs to carry out road repairs, painting public buildings and even working as part time undertakers burying the county’s dead.
His tough line on stealing led to perhaps his most memorable stunt, making inmates in the county’s prison system wear pink underwear.
He has also banned smoking, coffee, movies, pornographic magazines, and unrestricted TV in all jails.