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Sheriff Joe Arpaio: America's Most Expensive Sheriff

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Sheriff Joe Arpaio, after decades of perpetrating criminally unjust enforcement practices against undocumented immigrants, is not sitting pretty these days, and seems to be finally facing his reckoning.  Last year, a federal judge found Arpaio and his department guilty of practicing discriminatory immigration enforcement tactics, including racial profiling, and ordered a court-appointed monitor to oversee the office for a minimum of three years.  According to the Arizona Republic, that means Sheriff Arpaio’s antics will be costing his constituents another $21.9 million–and that’s on top of the millions in legal fees that taxpayers have had to pay to defend him over the years.

As Andrew Cohen at the Atlantic pointed out:

In other words, as TheRepublic reports, by consistently and flagrantly violating the constitutional rights of his constituents, Arpaio has brought upon those constituents a level of federal oversight that is entirely unnecessary for hundreds of other sheriffs in Arizona and elsewhere. Sheriff Joe rails against this federal intrusion upon his county’s autonomy– a court-ordered monitor now is at hand— even as his colleagues in office scramble to comply with their legal obligations. He plays the victim—the embattled symbol of sensible enforcement—while the people he is supposed to protect are the ones who have to pay his bill.

In an Arizona Republic editorial published shortly after the new year, the board concluded that Arpaio was not America’s toughest sheriff, as he likes to proclaim, but America’s most expensive sheriff.  As the editorial concludes:

Every extra dollar the county appropriates to comply with the court’s ruling is a dollar unavailable for other county services. That is one affront Arpaio should not be allowed.

To date, he has had to pay nothing for his abuses. Thomas was disbarred and former Chief Deputy David Henderschott lost his job. Innocents caught in his crime sweeps were handcuffed, detained and had to hire attorneys. Fear spread through entire communities. Public officials targeted for nonexistent corruption lived through hell.

Through it all, Arpaio remained in office. Fans lined up to get autographed pink boxers. Candidates clamored for his endorsement.

Unbelievable. Arpaio is a burden on the taxpayer, needlessly costing this county tens of millions of dollars. This is money that would be put to much better uses if he just stuck to what other Arizona sheriffs do: patrol their counties and enforce the law. It doesn’t sell books, but it keeps communities safe.