Mesa Police Chief George Gascón isn’t telling Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio to stay out of his city. Gascón isn’t suggesting that he will somehow interfere with the sheriff’s “crime suppression” sweeps targeting illegal immigrants, even though Gascón has made clear he disapproves of Arpaio’s tactics.
But Gascón does expect Arpaio to be a professional. And professionals set aside their personal feuds and public disagreements to work together in reducing crime, preventing civil unrest and protecting the deputies and police officers under their commands.
Gascón sent a letter to Arpaio last week requesting that the sheriff’s office coordinate with the Mesa Police Department when conducting high-intensity sweeps that involve large numbers of deputies and volunteer posse members saturating an area and looking for any legal excuse to question people about their residency status.
The letter sets out some specifics — Gascón wants to be notified at least two days before a sheriff’s office sweep begins inside Mesa’s jurisdiction. And he wants a ranking Mesa officer to sit with sheriff’s commanders at whatever central location is used to manage a Mesa operation.
The fact that Gascón had to even send such a letter demonstrates the strain in relations between the Mesa police and the sheriff’s office. Arpaio noted in a story Thursday by Tribune writer Katie McDevitt that it’s standard practice for outside law enforcement agencies to share information when they go on special operations in a local police force’s jurisdiction.
Such coordination prevents officers from one agency mistaking another set of officers as criminals and avoids possible deaths or injury by friendly fire. But Gascón also has to worry about the dueling protests that have trailed the sheriff’s activities in Phoenix and Guadalupe. Emotions run high when the topic is illegal immigration and extremists from both sides have turned out before.
Gascón rightly doesn’t want Arpaio to wait until the last possible minute to make a phone call or to send an e-mail, giving Mesa police no time to put officers in place to keep the streets safe and to help any sheriff’s deputies who might encounter trouble.
Arpaio says he he’s acting in a professional manner in removing illegal immigrants. If that’s true, he’ll respect the need of the Mesa police to be properly briefed before the sheriff’s office rides into the city.