The war of words between Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio continued Wednesday as Gordon blasted the sheriff for not tracking down thousands of criminals running free in the Valley.
During his annual State of the City address, the mayor criticized Arpaio for cracking down on suspected illegal immigrants instead of pursuing the "40,000 felony warrants sitting on his desk."
"Rounding up those people should be a priority," he said during the address. "Instead, he has created a sanctuary county for felons with his reckless priorities - that target brown skin and cracked taillights - instead of killers and drug dealers."
Not to be outdone, the sheriff's office sent a letter to Gordon stating that he could take over law enforcement responsibilities for the town of Guadalupe, which has asked for the Phoenix police to come in following a recent raid targeting illegal immigrants there.
"I'm not sure why the City of Phoenix would want to subsidize Guadalupe during a time of budget constraints and personnel shortages, but that's not my call," Capt. Tim Campbell stated in the letter. "If you choose to do so, we will gladly give you the keys to the substation and redeploy our deputies."
Currently, the small town of mostly Hispanic and Yaqui Indian residents pays the sheriff's office about $1.2 million each year to patrol its streets.
The two high-profile officials have been sparring publicly since Arpaio started sending his deputies into predominantly Hispanic neighborhoods last month to conduct "crime suppression" operations.
During the raids, deputies pull over drivers for minor traffic violations and arrest any suspected illegal immigrants.
Gordon has characterized them as "made-for-TV stunts" during an election year and sent the U.S. Attorney's Office a letter calling for an investigation into potential civil rights violations by the sheriff's office.
Arpaio has rejected that notion and defends his actions by saying he is stepping in to enforce federal immigration laws where local police agencies have failed.
In related events, a Scottsdale resident who is a member of the sheriff's posse filed a complaint with the U.S. Attorney's Office on Tuesday accusing Gordon of deliberately trying to stop Arpaio from enforcing federal immigration law.
Bill Crawford, who owns Basic Fitness Gym in Scottsdale, said he is acting as a private citizen, and not on Arpaio's behalf.
Rep. Ben Miranda, D-Phoenix, is planning a news conference today to show his support for Gordon. Miranda said he and other state lawmakers intend to send the U.S. Attorney's Office letters asking for an investigation of the sheriff's actions.