Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

October 14, 2008


Host: Ted Simons

Maricopa County Sheriff Debate


  • Maricopa County Sheriff candidates Democrat Dan Saban and Libertarian Chris Will face off in a debate as challengers to Republican Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Arpaio was invited to participate in the debate but declined.
Guests:
  • Dan Saban - Democratic candidate, Maricopa County Sheriff
  • Chris Will - Libertarian candidate, Maricopa County Sheriff
Category:

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
>>> Tonight on Horizon in our continuing election coverage, tonight, we bring you the two candidates looking to be the new sheriff in town.

Ted Simons:
>>> A chair of a group looking into fatal domestic violence talks about a new report.

Ted Simons:
>>> And we tell you what you need to know to make an informed vote for the retention of judges. That's coming up, next on Horizon.

Ted Simons:
>>> Good evening and welcome to horizon. I'm Ted Simons.

Ted Simons:
>>> Since being elected in 1992, Sheriff Joe Arpaio has reigned over Maricopa County as the self-proclaimed toughest sheriff in America. His fame has spread worldwide, and some of that fame is based on his controversial policies. We invited sheriff Arpaio to participate in tonight's debate, but he declined. So tonight, we hear from his two challengers. Dan Saban is a 32-year career lawman. He is 52-years-old and ran against the sheriff before as a Republican. This time he's running as a democrat. Chris Will is running as a libertarian with no law enforcement experience. Welcome to both on horizon. Thanks for joining us.

Dan Saban:
>> Thank you for having us.

Ted Simons:
>> Let's start with the basics here, Dan, why do you want to be sheriff?

Dan Saban:
>> That's a great question i get asked everyday. It's frustrating to me professionally and as after taxpayer and i see the failed policies by Joe Arpaio, I feel compelled to raise my hand and offer the voters another option.

Ted Simons:
>> Chris, why do you want to be sheriff?

Chris Will
>> Although I don't have direct law enforcement experience, apparently a lot of what my grandfather's experience was rubbed off on me. He was sheriff in Illinois. But until I started joining in a lot of complaints--discussions with other citizens and people had a lot of concerns about law enforcement and the controversies and I was complaining, too. They started shaking my hand and saying I want to vote for you. You should run. Not only was I complaining about the controversies going on and defending law enforcement and pointing out issues that were problems.
Ted Simons:
>> Dan, you mentioned off the bat failed policies.

Dan Saban::
>> Yes.

Ted Simons:
>> Let's talk about them in general and get more particular as the conversation goes on.

Dan Saban:
>> Joe Arpaio has compromised public safety throughout the county in a variety of levels. He's fiscally irresponsible and blatantly abusing American citizens' rights with his policies. The list is endless.

Ted Simons:
>> Let's start with the fiscal, that aspect of it. How can the sheriff's department be for efficient?

Dan Saban:
>> He's been in office for 16 years. He's never had a complete audit of fiscal practices. I think we need to start there with fiscal accountability. There's no transparency in the organization. You read consistently there are lawsuits because he avoids the public records request and is not willing to up and let the taxpayers see.

Ted Simons:
>> Can the sheriff's department reduce the force?

Dan Saban:
>> The sheriff's department says he can't do that. That's the best and quickest way to save money. He says he can't do that without jeopardizing public safety. Would you do that?

Dan Saban:
>> He has jeopardized public safety and compromised. It until you can get in there not do an audit and see the practices, no one has a clue. You can't see it because it's spun.

Ted Simons:
>> When people said run for sheriff, was there something in particular they pointed out as failed policies or things to be corrected?

Chris Will:
>> So many people i talked to don't trust law enforcement in general. A lot of people said I don't trust either candidate although at the time when they started saying that I didn't agree with them. I was thinking we have another alternative. Until somebody gets in there, we're not going to know what really is going on. But the more people were shaking my hand and saying I don't want to vote for either one and people were falling all over themselves to sign my petitions. Okay. Yeah, I can do this. And when I met Joe and he shook my hand and said maybe you can do the job. Everything going on in my candidacy in this particular circumstances under these conditions since we need somebody in there that everyone can trust that can speak both for law enforcement and citizens and constitutional rights, maybe I can.

Ted Simons:
>> Dan, illegal immigration you referred to it already. It is the flash point with the sheriff's department. First of all, what is wrong with current policy? What becomes your policy if elected?

Dan Saban:
>> You know the sheriff is very good at misdirecting the people's attention. I think he jumped on the immigration's issue and wouldn't touch it two years ago. He needs to defer your attention from the wasteful spending and compromising the public safety in the county. With immigration his methods are least productive. The method i would use is what i did as a chief in buckeye and go with our agencies and go after the coyote aspect. That's where the real threat is.

Ted Simons:
>> The county attorney says you can thus smuggle and break the law and the sheriff says I'm enforcing the law.

Dan Saban:
>> This is what is great. The voters compare and contrast. The voters have to question why police chiefs in others counties do it one way and this one does it this way. This is not a good investment for us.

Ted Simons:
>> You're basically talking priorities. The sheriff will say you're 5 asking for selective law enforcement. You are saying priorities?

Dan Saban:
>> You have to prioritize. With limited law enforcement services you have to prioritize. Citizens rely on public safety officials to do that.

Ted Simons:
>> Immigration?

Chris Will:
>> Exactly the same thing. We have got to go to the source with any illegal activity. We have to prioritize and go to the source of the problem. With the limited resources, that's all you can do.

Ted Simons:
>> You bring up resources. Much has been made of the sheriff's posse and both doing good things and others say not the right things. Would you keep the sheriff's posse?
Dan Saban:
>> Absolutely. Anytime you get citizens to volunteer their time, that's a critical commodity you need. Unfortunately you are increasingly misled. The sheriff will say he has 4,000 posse members, that's inaccurate. Maybe a thousand at the most and maybe 300 are active. He won't debate because he can't justify his policies.

Ted Simons:
>> We want to remind our viewers we asked Sheriff Joe Arpaio to the debate and he declined. The housing?

Dan Saban:
>> You have to look at the need to have a safe environment. We have a very bad jail. One of the news medias ran a video of a murder in may, a horrific one. That's negligence and lack of staffing. It will be worked with if redesigned and reconfigured.

Ted Simons:
>> Chain gangs. Would you continue with chain gang?

Dan Saban:
>> It's a joke. When you are understaffed and limited resources, you don't have time for gimmicks. What he has done has not made us safer.

Ted Simons:
>> Do you see them as gimmicks?

Chris Will:
>> Absolutely.

Ted Simons:
>> would they be gone when you are sheriff?

Chris Will:
>> yes.

Ted Simons:
>> The sheriff has been criticized with using the media a whole lot. What is wrong with a public official using the media to get his message out?

Dan Saban:
>> It's taxpayer expense. He has a pr staff of six to eight full-time employees. He's not a law enforcement official. He's the C.E.O. of a marketing firm. You don't see police chiefs on television every day promoting their policies. The police chief is the chief of the city. The sheriff is the elected chief of the county. It's the same job of the voters have to understand that promoting yourself on a daily basis is not the way to provide law enforcement services.

Ted Simons:
>> Private attorneys working for the sheriff's department, your thoughts.

Dan Saban:
>> I don't agree. That's what the county attorneys' office is for. The sheriff needs to rely on the county attorney to provide legal services to the county at a reasonable price and fee. I think these are the political favors to pay back those who supported him in the election process.

Ted Simons:
>> How do you explain Sheriff Joe Arpaio's public support. It has been higher but not as high as it was. It's considerable. How do you explain in a?

Dan Saban:
>> I have to disagree, Ted. The latest poll showed him at 52\% approval rating. That's significant. Any pollster tells you any incumbent that hovers at 50\% is vulnerable. The last election we had in 2004 to dismantle this mess is why he is not here tonight.

Ted Simons:
>> There is a contingent in the valley. There are folks who are go Joe, go Joe, 100\% of the time. Why do you think that is?

Dan Saban:
>> You know, he has his base. I have my base obviously. We are both fighting for the middle just as well as Chris. She has her base. It's an extreme opinion and extreme support. There's a lot things playing in the election he never faced before. The minority vote, the 35 and younger and below vote. There's a lot of it in this vote because of national consequences of new president. I think a major statement will be made in this election.

Ted Simons:
>> Why do you think historically the sheriff has enjoyed popular support?

Chris Will:
>> Well, he's very good at public, you know, public--great, I can't think of the word. He's great at public pr. There's a difference when you invite interaction with the community. Right now it's separate from the community. And we need--for public safety we do need to make it more integrated mcso with the community and make this partnership once again. Without the trust and confidence of the community, public safety can only go downhill from here.

Ted Simons:
>> you are elected a year from now, how does the sheriff's department look and act as opposed to the way it looks and acts now?


Dan Saban:
>> Oh, I think you'll see a complete makeover. I think that's what's needed especially at the top. It's really not the line level folks trying to do their jobs much they are understaffed. They are under-resourced because it's not a priority with Joe Arpaio. The priority if you look his executive level is fully staffed. His pr office is fully staffed. There are over 200 vacancies in the jail system. That's irresponsible. You'll see a makeover and professional. I think the entire attitude will change. I think the example is set at the top and what you see is reflected.

Ted Simons:
>> Quickly how would you change the department as the way it is right now.

Chris Will:
>> Absolutely. The attitude will change. The men and women putting their lives on the line for us will be more supported and there will be merit and encouraging and helping the community to understand what it is they are facing even if it's a simple traffic stop.

Ted Simons:
>> All right. We stop is right there. Dan, Chris, thank you for joining us.

Ted Simons:
>>> October is domestic violence awareness month. We address the issue by telling you about a domestic violence fatality review team created by state lawmakers in 2005. The team, made up of law enforcement, domestic violence officials, clergy and business representatives, just to name a few, had the mission of taking a deeper look into the problem of fatal domestic violence. Earlier, I talked to Libby Bissa, chair of the domestic violence fatality review team, about her group's goals. Thank you for joining us.

Libby Bissa:
>> Thank you for having me.

Ted Simons:
>> Let's talk about this team. What is it?

Libby Bissa:
>> It's a multi-disciplinary group of people in some, way, shape or form as interaction with the domestic violence victim that works with or protects the victim.

Ted Simons:
>> Basically you look at a particular case and try to learn from it.

Libby Bissa:
>> We do. We do. We chose a case that gives us a round view of what it provides or doesn't provide to a victim of domestic violence and give it a holistic view of what happened in that situation.

Ted Simons:
>> In this particular case why was this case chosen? Was there something special here or something that seemed to be more apropos than other cases?

Libby Bissa:
>> We chose this because it had a lot of interaction with the criminal justice system and the court system. General there was a lot going on. It gave us a broad view of bunch of systems at once that would interact with the victim. We were able to look at a lot of things about how the victim was treated, how she interacted with the system, what she felt, what she didn't feel, how she viewed the system and how she cooperated or didn't cooperate with it as well as what the perpetrator did.

Ted Simons:
>> How much does the cooperation of the victim's family play into this.

Libby Bissa:
>> It's helpful. We will not review a case that doesn't have family involvement. The reason is the no one knows the victim better than the family. The family has the view about what's going on that is valuable to us as the team looking at cases. It gives it a heart and soul because wore looking at a person's life and trying to determine how in the future we can save someone's life.

Ted Simons:
>> In terms of getting information whether it is from the family, from the victim or other sources, how difficult can that be?

Libby Bissa:
>> It can be really difficult depending on where you know where it's at and getting it. The first time it was complex because we were learning how to do it all and where to find everything. But we have a better knowledge now of where to go and get things, how to get them, how do get medical records from the hospital and really how to work with the family to get a lot of information from the family and friends and people who are just involved in peripheral ways.

Ted Simons:
>> As far as the review and findings and such, going to help future cases and how so?

Libby Bissa:
>> I believe it really will because what we're able to do is see how the system breaks down or supportive to the victim and how can we improve what's going on? What happened after this review is we determined that our threat management team and system needed to be enhanced and needed to do a better job of identifying victims that were under more severe threat, heightened threat level. To look at how could we better protect them? How could we educate the families and the victims and just people in general about the system? What has happened is the phoenix police department has begun a domestic violence threats project. They are looking at how they can better assign a lethality level to the cases so you can look at the most lethal cases first.

Ted Simons:
>> Basically there were areas of improvement that were found. Were there surprises?

Libby Bissa:
>> I think the busy biggest surprise was the heartfelt one for us of the family was so interested in being involved and interested in making a change in the system and/or a change down the road. I think it was bigger ever than we thought.

Ted Simons:
>> This was one team and one review, correct.

Libby Bissa:
>> Uh-huh.

Ted Simons:
>> Will there be another one?

Libby Bissa:
>> There will be. We have begun selecting our case and review will be made as soon as the contacts are made.

Ted Simons:
>> Year to year or along the lines.

Libby Bissa:
>> Eventually we would like to do two in a year and step up the process. Right now it's a little more difficult and we are new at it. Once we are able to tag down everything and make it systemic, then we'll be able to do more.

Ted Simons:
>> For those who want to find out more about domestic violence brutality review team website.

Libby Bissa:
>> phoenix.gov/dv.

Ted Simons:
>>> When you get to the bottom of the ballot this election, there will be the names of many judges that you've probably never heard of. And although we don't elect judges in Maricopa County, we do get to vote on whether they should stay in office. Instead of skipping that part of the ballot, there is a place you can get information to help you decide on how to vote on a judge's retention. It's the Arizona commission on judicial performance review. Here to talk to that is Roberta Voss, chair of the commission. Give us the background and what the commission does.

Roberta Voss:
>> Terrific. Thank you for the opportunity to talk about that. In 1992 the voters made a constitutional change. They approved a proposition that requires the evaluation of the performance of judges who are serving on the bench. We come together and by 1994, once everything was put into place, by 1994 the first jpr commission started reviewing and evaluating judges. There are 30 of us who get together. We get together every couple of months to make these review. There are 18 public members. That's a big focus. It is a public commission not overloaded with the judiciary if you will. There are six judges and six lawyers on the commission as well. That makes up the 30.

Ted Simons:
>> When you are looking at the public is there anything in particular that you are looking for or trying to find a wide variety as possible.

Roberta Voss:
>> Quite frankly we look at applicants who are interested in the judicial process and third branch of government. That's, you know, a key component to why we think this is important in terms of ballot completion the judiciary is the third branch of the government very important. The most important part for applicants is that they are interested in the process and being involved. There is an application on line at www.azjudges.info.

Ted Simons:
>> How is the information collected and done?

>> There's a snapshot towards the end of the year September-December where surveys. We have all seen surveys. We survey people who appear in front of all of the judges. That information is it collected. It's collected by an actual data center. They're an independent center separated from us from the data center compiles all of the information in addition to compiling the information they code each one of the judges. It's literally a blind look when we take a look at everything is anonymous. We don't know which judges we are reviewing when they were in front of the commission.

Ted Simons:
>> What kind of standards are the folks looking at? It's not i don't like his haircut. It has to be of substance.

Roberta Voss:
>> Absolutely substance. They numerous categories from legal airport to temperament to how they treat people fairly. There are several subcategories in each of those particular sections. We interview everyone would comes into contact with the judge. It can be attorneys, witnesses, someone who represents themselves, it could be a bailiff, a juror, anyone who comes in contact.
Ted Simons:
>> once you do the data processing and everything done how often does a judge wind up not meeting standards overall.

Roberta Voss:
>> As the retention site comes up some judges leave naturally. Voters need to know the cycle of judges does turn over as it should in the course of time. Since 1994 there have been two instances where the commission has made a does not meet recommendation. Keeping many mind what the jpr process does, we review information and then we provide--this is our mission--we provide it to the voters. We don't say yes, vote this way. No, don't vote this way: we don't oppose or support a judge on the bench. We provide information. The information we provide does meet standards or does not meet standards. What does that mean? Quickly and as briefly as i can. We look at these statistics and numbers and although categories in two ways. One on a 4.0 scale if the judge reached a 2.0 threshold or higher, then that would equally meet recommendation. In addition to that we look at five areas which we're all familiar with unsatisfactory, poor, good, great, those types of things. 25\% or greater of the surveys came back saying the judge was unsatisfactory or poor, then there's a step for concern as well.

Ted Simons:
>> okay. Folks are hearing this and saying, you know, what, I wouldn't mind being part of the process and being a part of the public component of all this. How do they go about it?

Roberta Voss:
>> Couple of different ways. One if they find themselves having an opportunity to be in court fill out the survey. Second go up on the website. Www.azjudges.info and they can apply to be part of the commission. Put that in your browser and keep it because we post all of the minutes and meetings. There's a period of public comments so if you are not in 16 court specifically or know of other interactions with the judge, you are more than welcome to make public comment. We take public testimony.

Ted Simons:
>> 30 seconds left. Is Arizona a trail blazer in this?

Roberta Voss:
>> They were. A lot of states have caught on and begun the performance evaluations. Arizona is definitely nationally recognized by the merit selection and way they retain them.

Ted Simons:
>> One more time the website.

Roberta Voss:
>> www.azjudges.info.

Ted Simons:
>>> Tomorrow horizon is preempted for the presidential debate. Join us Thursday for the preview of the recently started session of the United States Supreme Court. We will be visited by asu law professor Paul Bender. That's Thursday at 7:00 on horizon. That is it for now. Thank you for joining us. I'm Ted Simons. You have a great evening.

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