Arpaio seeks publicity, not criminals - East Valley Tribune: News

Arpaio seeks publicity, not criminals

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Posted: Tuesday, July 28, 2009 3:42 pm | Updated: 2:21 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

Mike McClellan: Mesa's police chief, George Gascón, has moved on to San Francisco. And it seems many are pleased with that. Their mistake. The folks who object to Gascón boil their anger at him down to one thing: He isn't Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. America's Toughest Sheriff. The scourge of illegal immigrants in Maricopa County. The Only One Who Enforces The Law, if you read the letters and bloggers' comments.

Mesa's police chief, George Gascón, has moved on to San Francisco. And it seems many are pleased with that. Their mistake.

The folks who object to Gascón boil their anger at him down to one thing: He isn't Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. America's Toughest Sheriff. The scourge of illegal immigrants in Maricopa County. The Only One Who Enforces The Law, if you read the letters and bloggers' comments.

Mike McClellan

And since Gascón wouldn't support Arpaio - is there any police chief in Arizona who does? - Gascón became the enemy. Worse, Gascón went to Washington to testify against what Arpaio was doing under the banner of the federal government. And he wasn't shy about publicly disagreeing with Arpaio.

So the clamor for Gascón's ouster grew louder. Even as Mesa grew safer.

That's right - during Gascón's time as police chief, crime in Mesa dropped 31 percent. Solving homicides went up during his tenure. And this came, in part, from the strategies he implemented.

But that doesn't mean much to those who oppose Gascón. All they see is that he's not with Arpaio. Ergo, they're against him.

Which is symptomatic of a larger problem in our county. As long as Arpaio rounds up a few illegal immigrants occasionally, most Maricopa County voters are placated. Satisfied. Safe in their belief that the sheriff really is a crime fighter.

So when the Tribune ran its Pulitzer Prize-winning series about the effect the sheriff's immigrant sweep policy has had on his overall enforcement - slower response times, unable or unwilling to investigate crimes in areas for which the sheriff has jurisdictional or contractual responsibility - his supporters attacked the newspaper. For these folks, the sheriff can do no wrong.

Even when one of his publicity-seeking stunts doesn't work. One of the latest of which was the Sunsplash raid, the sweep of some illegal immigrants at Golfland/Sunsplash in Mesa. This is the raid that the sheriff and the county attorney loudly proclaimed would result in prosecuting the management under the employer sanctions Law, a law that has yet to be applied to any employer. Not one.

Even in the Sunsplash case. Because in this case, the county attorney is prosecuting exactly one person - a food services manager.

Sure, the sheriff got his time on TV, complete with the perp walk of illegal immigrants. And he got some air time to show how tough he and the county attorney are on employers of illegal immigrants.

But any sanctions on the company? Any? None.

No matter, though. The Sheriff Is the Only One Who Enforces The Law. Even if Gascón has actually used the law to make Mesa a safer place to live.

-

Mike McClellan is a resident of Gilbert.

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