Serving warrants is sheriff's duty - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Serving warrants is sheriff's duty

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Posted: Wednesday, May 14, 2008 6:15 pm | Updated: 9:20 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

The current sheriff wasn't doing his job of serving warrants, so the governor had to step in and do it. That's a shame because sheriffs have always taken responsibility for serving them. Here's a little history to back up my claim.

All felony arrest warrants in Maricopa County are issued by Superior Court judges, regardless whether the actual crime took place within a city or not. In this county, the sheriff's office serves as the central repository for the thousands of felony arrest warrants issued each year from its Superior Courts. Traditionally, as the sole warehouse for county felony warrants, the sheriff has always reserved a significant portion of his budget to conscientiously and expeditiously serve as many those warrants as he could.

In 1910, Carl Hayden was the sheriff of Maricopa County and, on one occasion, single-handedly captured two fleeing train robbers after chasing them down in a borrowed car. Hayden, who went on to become his state's longest-serving member of Congress, knew what his priorities were. Paraphrasing the state law that governs how a sheriff does his business, Hayden simply preserved the peace and arrested as many people committing public offenses as he could; all without fanfare or stunts. He saw it as both his job and his public duty.

Joe Arpaio has pointed out hundreds of times that he was elected by and serves all of the residents of Maricopa County. But when it comes to tracking down and locking up some of the county's most serious wanted felons, Arpaio - an elected county officer - chooses to spend his department's increasingly limited resources on crime suppression trips to Honduras and on provoking near riots in furniture store parking lots in the middle of incorporated cities. Suddenly, the needs of cities take priority over ensuring that known, dangerous felons are taken off the streets of the whole county.

Due to their unique jurisdictions, sheriff's offices have the ability to span city boundaries and pursue felons wherever they may flee within their respective counties. This is the primary reason that it has always been the sheriffs who have taken the lead on the service of felony arrest warrants.

Perhaps its time that the residents of Maricopa County got their money's worth and insist that their sheriff gets back to the business of tracking down and arresting dangerous felons.

And, I'm sure that Carl Hayden would have agreed.

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Former Buckeye Police Chief Dan Saban is running for Maricopa County sheriff as a Democrat.

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