Sheriff Joe Arpaio: Goodbye To Posse Is ‘Last Hurrah’

By Andres Guerra Luz and Danielle Quijada

PHOENIX – Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio stood in a cold parking lot outside Park Central Mall on Monday evening and presided over one of his last press conferences.

The conference was billed as a gathering in which Arpaio would say goodbye to posse members charged with protecting holiday shoppers.

But the focus of the event sometimes shifted from the posse to the 84-year-old sheriff’s reflections on 24 years in office. He was sometimes jovial, sometimes defiant, sometimes pensive. Some posse members held back tears as he spoke.

“This is my last hurrah as Sheriff,” Arpaio told Cronkite News after the event.

In January, Arpaio will no longer have authority over the 23-year-old posse he founded when he took office in 1993, handing over the controversial volunteer program to newly-elected Sheriff Paul Penzone, who defeated Arpaio as he battled legal problems, including a racial profiling ruling and a criminal contempt of court charge.

“I don’t care about legacies and all that, but one thing I am proud of is that nobody is going to beat my record of 24 years in the environment of the third largest sheriff’s office in the country,” Arpaio said.

Arpaio wouldn’t comment on the posse’s future under Penzone.

Stacy Pearson, Penzone’s spokeswoman, said Penzone plans to expand the posse because it is a “tremendous resource” to the community.

Penzone’s website says the posse will cooperate with sworn deputies in education, crime prevention, community outreach and proper police procedures.

“We have a new sheriff in town,” posse member Bill Crawford told Cronkite News after the press conference.

“We’re hopeful this is a positive change,” he said.

The posse once had 3,000 volunteers, the sheriff’s website previously reported. But today it has 768 active members, according to Matteson. Besides protecting shoppers, posse members provide medical rescue and emergency response services, while others cover geographical areas like Sun City.

Critics have accused Arpaio of using the posse for publicity stunts that raised money for his campaign.

In 2012, members of Arpaio’s posse investigated President Barack Obama’s birth certificate and said it was “probably” fraudulent.

The next year, Arpaio announced his posse would patrol Maricopa County schools following the Sandy Hook shooting. He enlisted the help of action star Steven Seagal, who took part in a training exercise in a Phoenix school simulating a mass school shooting scenario.

But the sheriff told Cronkite News that he used publicity “to report to the people” about the posse’s activities.

He said the posse’s duties aren’t just “bells and whistles” to get publicity, and asserted at the press conference there is a “rationale” behind every policy he enforces.

Niko Vazquez, 26, a volunteer member of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Posse, spoke positively about his posse service at a press conference near Park Central Mall on Nov. 28, 2016. (Photo by Danielle Quijada/Cronkite News)
Niko Vazquez, 26, a volunteer member of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Posse, spoke positively about his posse service at a press conference near Park Central Mall on Nov. 28, 2016. (Photo by Danielle Quijada/Cronkite News)

Niko Vazquez, 26, who has been a posse member for about three years, said many of the controversies throughout Arpaio’s time in office were “blown out of proportion” and the good that came out of his office was overlooked.

Vazquez said he is “very hopeful” the posse program will continue.

Arpaio said the year before he formed the posse, there was “a lot of violence at the malls.” He formed a “mall patrol” posse in 1993. Since then, crimes in malls under the posse’s watch have generally been lower, said Detective Doug Matteson, a spokesman for the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office.

“To me this is a very important program,” Arpaio said. Having the posse’s presence at malls allows shoppers to feel safe especially during the holidays.

Arpaio has long said he got the idea for forming the posse from Westerns he watched as a kid in Springfield, Mass. Instead of rounding up horse thieves, some in Arpaio’s modern-day posse publicly helped round up animal abusers, drug pushers, deadbeat dads and, critics said, undocumented immigrants – until Arpaio’s immigration enforcement was halted by a federal judge.

Arpaio appeared to have no regrets on Monday evening. He had a job to do, he said, and he did it.

“The people believe in me and they still believe in me,” Arpaio said.

23 Comments

  1. as time does, it will prove out ‘was Joe a bad guy’? ‘did Joe commit a crime’? What will come of the famous prison system he set up that treated inmates like inmates. Feed veggie diets, no smoking, no drinking, no dope, change your underwear, sleep in the open air, drink safe water, grow your own food, be responsible for your own actions – and get on with your life. I’m not sure what’s bad about this, for many it may be a new experience to do that for themselves for once… or perhaps a welcome life saving break from years of addictions – a bit to time to reflect in the desert. Some folks pay for that.. in this instance it’s the tax payer because these people have proven themselves unable to remain and sustain themselves without being a danger to others – or they’d be out of the street with the others of their kind killing themselves some more would they not? So is it back to the cement walls and cages ? Be interesting to see what they do with what “Joe” made famous – being in Jail in Phoenix.

  2. Jerome, you make no mention of the billions that Obama and his minions have caused us to spend. Don’t you pay federal taxes?

    • Hi Mr. Checker. I’m one of your biggest fans 😉 To answer your question, Boy howdy do I pay taxes! I didn’t mention the Obamanator because he wasn’t the subject of the piece. But you can be assured that I have plenty of bones to pick with him too.

  3. Obama had it out for Sheriff Joe day one after he came into office. Obama caused as much grief for Joe using his DOJ so he would leave, which didn’t happen. Many good people had to stop the bleeding of money going for his lawyer fees, so he was voted out of office. Great job Sheriff Joe!

  4. Thank you Joe for being a Great American and a leader in Law Enforcement and Justice.
    Enjoy your retirement.

  5. You did your job well, Joe, but it was time to retire yourself from THIS job. There’s another waiting for you around the corner. Thanks for your extraordinary service.

  6. Wow. I’m surprised at the overwhelming support for Arpaio. Oh… most of you don’t live I’m Maricopa county! I am as much of a fan of small government and large law enforcement as all of you. However, because I pay taxes in Maricopa, I might be more sensitive to the stupid things Arpaio has done. He single handedly has doubled the expense of defending our county officials from lawsuits. Thru his actions and policies, has made clear that he values animal life more than human. What do I mean? The sheriff runs the dog pound. You don’t hear about the animals eating green bologna! Most of those in the sheriff’s custody have not been convicted of a darn thing, yet they get the same gourmet menu offered to the convicted. I won’t lie down to any response to this post that calls me a bleeding heart liberal. I’m as against giving ANY rights of citizenship to ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS as any of you. And notice that I identify myself with my birth name. No hiding here…So what I’m saying is it was time for Joe to go. He was a good sheriff for a long time. But like too many public office holders, he came to believe that his opinion was more important than being a good public servant. I wish you well, Joe. And if Trump should give you a pardon, I’d support it 100 percent.You made the point that if the federal government didn’t enforce immigration laws, someone had to. Thank you. But you took it to far when you made your point with taxpayers pocketbooks.

    • If you’re going to be non-liberal and anti-amnesty here, I suggesting hiding your name due to the politics of personal destruction on the Left. Your choice, though. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.

    • I agree, but did not want to be the 1st one to bring it up. Anyone that believes some of the CRIMINAL, Illegal, Alien, Invaders living here are not voting, refuse to face reality.

  7. Chubby Checker – LOL. “enforcing ALL laws”. Where were his roundups in Scottsdale or Paradise Valley for the illegal drug USERS? Maybe because that’s where his supporters came from..?
    The fact is he has ignored a federal judges’ orders. As TRUMP has said, “We are a nation of laws”.

    • I hope you are correct. I was just thinking about President Elect Trump giving him a FULL and Unconditional PARDON when he assumes the Presidency. I am sure that the Treacherous Non Citizen President, and Closet Muslim, will Pardon the traitorous Army soldier and the Wicked which from the East.

      Enjoy your retirement Mr. Arpaio.

  8. Sheriff Joe served his community well for many years. Maricopa county is far safer today through his efforts then it was when he took office.
    Rather you love him or hate him, he was a proud member of local law enforcement and we should be thankful for his dedication to duty.
    Thank you Sheriff Joe!

  9. Thank you for enforcing ALL our laws Joe. You are a true patriot. Sorry we got sidetracked with 8 years of Marxism open borders nonsense from what will be remembered as the worst President in US history. Trump just saved 1,000 jobs at Carrier AC and he is not even inaugurated. Obama never saved one job from leaving the country. He encouraged companies out and illegals in.

  10. Another true Patriotic. American gone because of the B.S. Political Correctness Plague that has INFECTED our once great country. LOCK and LOAD people as we are head for a disastrous CRIMINAL, ILLEGAL, ALIEN, INVASION Armageddon.

  11. I hate to say I told you so, but I did. I could share hundreds of reasons the hood folks of Maricopa county overwhelming voted his behind out.

    Cash will be the only one I will discuss. The people will enjoy millions and millions of tax payer dollars to improve the quality of life for ALL residents.

    Now I still am hopeful for maximum prison term. Violation of Court order still demamds consequences.

    • It is obvious to those of us that see your Radical post’s here on a regular basis, that you don’t actually “hate” saying “I told you so”.

      It should also be obvious that we do not give a diddly squat about your opinions and “I told you so’s”.

      I do not believe that Mr. Arpaio has committed any Felonious, Treasonous, Criminal acts close to what the Wicked which from the East HITLERy KLINKton has done. Do you also profess that she should do a, “maximum prison term”, for her offense’s against the Nation and “we the people”.

      • If “Dick” were out on the street corner preaching his brand of libtard self righteousness, he’d indeed be lonely as no one outside of himself talking into his bathroom mirror concurs with his point of view, but here he can his talking points in the safety of equality.
        Richard, I for one am always glad to see your post here, It reminds me of how fortunate I am to an IQ in double digits, perhaps one day you’ll be as lucky.

  12. Thanks for everything Sheriff Joe. It’s impossible to beat this tidal wave of PC taking over with the media taking the lead. We’ll be waiting for another Sheriff to take over someday with your hutzpah. Good luck and Gods speed. It’s now your turn to sit back and watch anyone that try’s to follow the law to get beat up and harassed.

  13. Will miss you Joe. You ran afoul with the PC police over ILLEGAL immigration because you wanted to follow the laws that the Feds wouldn’t. You fought the good fight now enjoy yourself and look back on your legacy as America’s “toughest sheriff” with pride.

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