Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the self-described “toughest sheriff in the United States” best known for his jail’s pink underwear and illegal-immigrant sweeps, said he would not resign despite claims that his office misspent funds and failed to investigate 400 sex-crime cases.
“I’m not going to resign as long as the people want me and elect me,” Arpaio told CBS 5.
The Arizona Republic reported that the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office failed to adequately investigate more than 400 sex-crime cases over a two-year period. An internal probe of the sex-crime cases was blocked by Chief Deputy David Hendershott two years ago because he wanted to protect an investigator from bad publicity.
Hendershott, who was hand picked by Arpaio, resigned last month after an independent investigation found he had violated ethics rules, created a hostile work environment, and misappropriated funds.
“When you have responsibility for about 16,000 people that I’m responsible for and I believe in delegation, sometimes things slip by. It’s a big organization, lots of responsibility,” Arpaio told KGUN9 News. “I’m not trying to pass the buck. The only thing that maybe I could be faulted for, that I [should] have had more close supervision.”
Additionally, county auditors found that Arpaio’s office spent nearly $100 million meant to fund jails to round up illegal immigrants and investigate his political rivals. Arpaio said the money was misspent because of a computer problem and blamed the political investigations on Hendershott.
Arpaio’s office is also under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice for alleged racial discrimination and profiling.
Image courtesy of Gage Skidmore