Rep. Raul M. Grijalva (D-AZ) on Monday called for Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio to resign after the Associated Press reported that his office had inadequately investigated more than 400 sex-crime investigations during a three-year period.
Current and former police officers familiar with the cases told the Associated Press that Arpaio’s office botched hundreds of sex-crimes investigations. In the small city of El Mirage alone, there were at least 32 reported child molestations that hadn’t been worked on, even though the suspects in most cases were known. Many of the victims were children of illegal immigrants.
“This nothing-to-see-here attitude is the worst kind of unaccountable arrogance, and Mr. Arpaio needs to step down before any more damage is done to public confidence in our law enforcement and justice system,” Grijalva said. “The picture emerging – no follow-up, no investigation, no prosecution, no justice and a shield of silence after the fact – is not how we conduct law enforcement in this country.”
“Enforcing laws against violent crime, whatever a victim’s legal status, is mandatory and not something we leave to individual communities as an open question. Selective enforcement undermines respect for our brave legal officers and is rightly not tolerated by the public.”
Arpaio is already a controversial figure. The self-proclaimed “toughest sheriff in the nation” has gained national attention for his hard-line stance against illegal immigration and his controversial tactics, including forcing prison inmates to wear pink underwear and putting them to work on chain gangs.
When wildfires plagued Arizona in June, Arpaio ordered that illegal immigrants be arrested and questioned about whether they were the cause of the blazes. In the summer of 2010, when Arizona’s severe immigration laws were enacted, he threatened to jail any who protested it. He also gained credibility with the so-called birthers when he promised to investigate President Barack Obama’s birth certificate.
Arpaio’s backing had been sought by Republican candidates including Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann. He ended up endorsing Rick Perry.
“Mr. Arpaio might love headline-grabbing crackdowns and theatrical media appearances, but when it comes to the everyday work of keeping people safe, he seems to have lost interest some time ago,” Grijalva added. “He should give the affected families a sense that justice is finally being done by taking the honorable route and resigning now.”
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore