Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

April 7, 2009


Host: Ted Simons

Sheriff Joe Arpaio


  • Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio discusses a Washington hearing that focused on local law enforcement’s role in enforcing immigration law. He also talks about the U.S. Attorney General's investigation into possible civil rights violations in his department.
Guests:
  • Joe Arpaio - Maricopa County Sheriff
Category: Immigration

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
Good evening and welcome to "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has faced some heat in the past for his "crime suppression sweeps," which some say are just a cover for immigration roundups that target Latinos. Now, congressional judicial committee hearings have been held regarding the claims. Sheriff Arpaio says the hearings are politically motivated. Here to talk about that is Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Good to see you again.

Joe Arpaio:
It's interesting, I just had a press conference showing we arrested 800 felons, human smuggling. And so we do other things in the crime suppression that seems to be aggravating some people.

Ted Simons:
Let's talk about these hearings. They were based on immigration enforcement. Your thoughts on the hearings. Politically motivated or did something good come out of this?

Joe Arpaio:
I wasn't invited by the congressmen. They went to the attorney general of the United States because they read in the papers some derogatory remarks about me. They didn't have the courtesy to call me, which is sad because I did spend 30 years dedicating my life fighting the international drug traffic in Mexico and Turkey. I can go on and on. You would think they would have the courtesy to call me first to say, "Is this true, Sheriff?" No, they went to the Attorney General and Janet Napolitano asking me to be investigated for racial profiling.

Ted Simons:
When you hear allegations of racial profiling, we hear them constantly, your response to that, specifically that the MCSO profiles Latinos.

Joe Arpaio:
We do not. This is something that the civil division will find out when they come to town. So I'm very happy with my deputies, they're well trained. Five weeks training by the federal government. So they know not to racial profile. So I'm very comfortable with our operation.

Ted Simons:
We had testimony from a 19-year-old man, his quote, "I don't know why officer stopped us out of all of the vehicles on the road." A legal citizen and his father a legal resident.

Joe Arpaio:
This was a big raid we made on at Maintenance Company and we knew there were at least 40 or 50 felons in there with phony identification. When you go in here where you have people approaching, you have to take some type of security caution for the safety of our deputies and even those in the establishment. Why did they bring that guy down? Why did they bring all of the critics? Why not bring down somebody like the head of the NACP, hoping he would say I racial profiled.

Ted Simons:
These hearings were focused on the 287G program. And they had people there who were in support of that. A father of the daughter whose life was taken on the roadways. But this would seem to be an example of racial profiling. Certainly they should look into something like that.

Joe Arpaio:
They can look into whatever they want. When we're responsible for 25,000 investigations on illegal immigrations. The people that have been incarcerated in the jail, that we investigate, 23,000, and about 4,000 on the streets. Someone has an allegation, we will look into it and let the justice department come down and get the true story.

Ted Simons:
The idea of a 287G program targeting -- and correct me if I'm wrong. The idea was to target violent illegal immigrants. Are you saying it's ok to go after non-violent illegal immigrants?

Joe Arpaio:
Of course. 51% of the people in my jails booked by all cops are misdemeanors. Why are you talking about going after violent crime? Everybody doesn't just go after violent crimes.

Ted Simons:
But wouldn't it make sense to have more of a focus on the violent element as opposed to going to a place where you might get janitors and these folks?

Joe Arpaio:
Why do you go after DUI's? That's not a major crime. Why hookers? That's not a major crime. What's wrong with me, during the course of my duties that we come across illegal aliens that we're trained to detect, what's wrong with arresting them?

Ted Simons:
Is there not enough of a priority on the violent element as opposed to the others?

Joe Arpaio:
During the crime suppression operation we did detect three people that raped a young girl. Brought them to justice. So we do get other crimes too. But they say dishwashers and so on. When we go into the workplace on the employer sanction and we arrest 40, 50 people for phony identification, we're number one in the nation, why is it that no one says thank you? If they would not illegal, they would say thank you. Just because they're not illegal, people don't like it.

Ted Simons:
A lot of people do say thank you. You're popular here in Maricopa County. But there are those that say, yes, that can be done, but we're more worried about those that should be targeted, the violent element and certainly out there. Are you saying if it's a 40-1 ratio, that's a good operation as opposed to getting a few more and leaving the other folks alone?

Joe Arpaio:
I'm an equal opportunity law guy. I lock everybody up. When you talk about violence, I know a jaywalker who just killed a police officer. A jaywalker. A DUI. They're all illegal. We're not going to enforce illegal immigration laws unless they kill someone?

Ted Simons:
I don't want to get too bogged down, but the priority aspect of it all. Mesa Police Chief Gascon was there in Washington. Invited to speak.

Joe Arpaio:
Paid by the activists I'm sure.

Ted Simons:
Yes, and he said your policies killed the trust for law enforcement in Latino areas. How do you respond to that?

Joe Arpaio:
Really? I have a lot of illegals that call me and give me information. How do you think we're getting into all of these workplaces? Its illegal aliens that come to us and give us information. People come to us and talk to us. It doesn't matter. If they get good information, there's a system with I.C.E. that will help those people.

Ted Simons:
Do you think you've lost a few leads because folks are afraid to come forward?

Joe Arpaio:
I don't know, that's -- in the whole realm of law enforcement, some people don't come forward for many reasons. It has nothing to do with illegal immigration. When you ask for information from the public -- for example, we have 14 murders we haven't solved. You know that nobody publicized 14 murders where they were kidnapped and executed because they didn't pay the coyote. And I have different people coming forward because no one would report that in the news media.

Ted Simons:
What is reported and a lot of people are talking about is outstanding warrants and the responsibility of the Maricopa County Sheriff's office to take care of those. Especially the violent element among those still outstanding. Is it your responsibility to get these guys?

Joe Arpaio:
No, I'm going to say it again. All of these activists, we're only responsible for 1500. The police are responsible for their warrants. Everyone's really responsible, but I have operations on warrants. We cleared 17,000 last year. Why doesn't anyone talk about that? We have TECHNO cops on all of our vans. It’s up to the local police to clear their warrants.

Ted Simons:
Why not the sheriff's office taking the lead on this?

Joe Arpaio:
17,000's a lot of warrants that we arrested.

Ted Simons:
Indeed. But it sounds as though local law enforcement is not getting the cooperation out of your office.

Joe Arpaio:
Should we take the lead on hookers? On DUI’s? On a lot of crimes. Why warrants?

Ted Simons:
If it's dealing with especially violent criminals outstanding, would that not be wiser to take the lead on that as opposed to hookers and maybe lesser violent crimes?

Joe Arpaio:
I'm talking about police departments arrest hookers and DUI’s. Why me? Why me?

Ted Simons:
Why not you?

Joe Arpaio:
Well, why me? Why? Am I going to police this whole valley? Is that what my mission is? You have police departments that are supposed to be doing that job.

Ted Simons:
Again, I would ask, though, again, this is just coming from the general conversation here, why not you? Would that not be something for the sheriff's office to go ahead and take a lead on?

Joe Arpaio:
If they want to give me the money, the manpower, and we'll look into it.

Ted Simons:
So money is a factor here?

Joe Arpaio:
Of course it is. Of course it is it's up to every law enforcement agency to pitch in and arrest their warrants. You know that Mesa has 35,000 outstanding warrants? Nobody talks about that.

Ted Simons:
Are you helping them get their folks?

Joe Arpaio:
We locked up 17,000 last year, and we're a good partner and we pitch in and do a good job.

Ted Simons:
You think you're a good partner with Mesa on capturing these folks?

Joe Arpaio:
Sure, during our crime suppression operations that he complains about, we have arrested outstanding warrants that belong to him.

Ted Simons:
I want to get to money from a different angle. The board of supervisors have postponed the $1.6 million that keeps coming and going. What's going on here? Your response to them taking that money away.

Joe Arpaio:
Very sad. The legislature gave me that money. $1.6 million to go after the human smugglers. I just -- smugglers.

Ted Simons:
20% cuts from each department, suggested cuts, didn't help matters any. Why did you go along with that?

Joe Arpaio:
No, I want them to tell me what they're going to cut and then we'll negotiate. By the way, we did submit recommendations how to save millions of dollars. That's erroneous what you're talking about.

Ted Simons:
They requested 20% of cuts from every agency and you did submit 20%?

Joe Arpaio:
I don't know if it's 20%, but the point is, I'm waiting for them to tell us how much they're going cut us. What's going to happen next month? We'll have the biggest cut of any law enforcement agency in this valley. Why? Why when they have a $350 million plus courthouse they're building, why spending the money for all of these other situations and not supporting the law enforcement?

Ted Simons:
I'm assuming that a lot of folks in county government would like to get some of the money directed to the courthouse even if they could. But the question remains, everyone submitted proposals -- well, not everyone. The county attorney and the treasurer's office. But most folks. Did it not make sense to go ahead and throw the 20% out there and --

Joe Arpaio:
No.

Ted Simons:
-- and when it comes back debate it from there?

Joe Arpaio:
There is no such thing as 20%. That would destroy my organization. I want them to come to me and say, we're cutting your budget a certain percentage and then we'll talk about it.

Ted Simons:
What happened between you and the board of supervisors? Seems like you were getting along famously and now it’s just in the ditch.

Joe Arpaio:
I guess it may be that I'm investigating certain people in the county and on the board. Isn't that a shame to say we're not going to give you $1.6 million because you're investigating? That's blackmail to me.

Ted Simons:
They're complaining about what they call climate of fear. They don't know if they're going to be subpoenaed or what kind of investigations. Emails, and if there's a climate of fear in county government, is that a good thing?

Joe Arpaio:
If they had nothing to fear, what's the concern if there's nothing to fear? They're not turning over our requests for information. I never seen such stonewalling when I conducted a criminal investigation than we're seeing now.

Ted Simons:
Is there a way to get the information without the sense of intimidation?

Joe Arpaio:
There's no intimidation. We do Freedom of Information. They don’t even respond to that. I have to respond to the media, but they don't respond. So it's a sad situation. I like to get along with everybody. But you know what? I have to do my job. I will do it in a professional way regardless of who the people are.

Ted Simons:
All right. Sheriff, I wish we had more time. I thank you as always for joining us on "Horizon."

Joe Arpaio:
My pleasure.

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