Update on Sheriff Joe’s PR move - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Update on Sheriff Joe’s PR move

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Posted: Wednesday, April 27, 2005 6:26 am | Updated: 8:37 am, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Honestly, it’s hard to figure out how Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio finds time to schedule all his publicity stunts.

Last week, he sent a fivepage letter to 273 school board members throughout the county urging them to adopt a volunteer drug-testing program.

Specifically, parents would volunteer their kids.

The plan is an extension of "Operation Safe Schools," Arpaio’s nine-month publicity campaign based on the notion that the pillars of education in Scottsdale are constructed of "black-tar Mexican heroin."

Arpaio proclaimed in the letter the operation, which he called an investigation, uncovered 160,000 telephone calls from drug dealers to potential customers.

"Additional intelligence, coupled with information received from credible informants, revealed a drug problem in our high schools that is far more difficult to combat than previously known," he wrote.

Of course it’s difficult to combat. That’s because it largely doesn’t exist.

Months after launching the publicity campaign, Arpaio released the findings in March.

A quick recap: Of 146 "investigative leads," 35 still attended school in Scottsdale. Of those, three were suspected of using "black-tar Mexican heroin," proper Anglo-sounding heroin or any other variety of heroin for that matter.

The majority of the investigative leads were suspected of using marijuana. Some were suspected of unknown misdeeds.

To be clear though, since Arpaio derived his intelligence from credible informants, the unknown misdeeds were certainly credible unknown misdeeds.

Based on that, Arpaio called for his drug-testing program. He assured school board members that his main goal is not to obtain prosecutions.

Obviously. He’s already proven he can avoid prosecutions without anyone’s help.

His goals are to raise consciousness of drug abuse, assist parents in detecting drug abuse, assist parents in intervention, and, most important, generate plenty of TV footage of him talking tough.

In his letter, Arpaio said he anticipates criticism. Gee, sheriff, you think? Could a complete lack of probable cause be a factor?

The majority of his schemes are designed to create — rather than avoid — criticism. Another recent publicity stunt was calling for drug-sniffing dogs to patrol schools. The Scottsdale Unified School District governing board is scheduled to vote on that one May 10.

In the drug-testing letter, he wrote, "I suspect that some may argue that the proposed plan is a paper tiger without any consequences to the student. I can only say . . . I am willing to take the chance that this plan might help."

Sure. Help feed Arpaio’s addiction to attention.

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