Sheriff Joe Arpaio

If Maricopa County and Phoenix are known for anything, it is probably the over-the-top sheriff that runs these parts. Self-billed as “America’s Toughest Sheriff,” his zeal seems to have caused him more trouble than it’s worth.

There are abundant stories about Sheriff Joe. His shenanigans a lauded by some and cause the rest to scratch their heads. I will mention only a few.

Arpaio Art - Two Second Street -
Photo courtesy of Tom Check

During his tenure as sheriff, he possibly gained most notoriety through his pink underwear initiative, in which inmates were issued pink underwear to prevent their theft upon the inmate’s release. This seems harmless at first blush, but it has caused him some pretty severe legal issues, but that hasn’t stopped him from using his infamous pink undies as recently as February to criticize Hillary Clinton.

He also created something called the tent city, something Arpaio describes as a “concentration camp,” with a “Vacancy” sign outside. During the extreme summers, certain inmates are meant to stay outside in the blistering heat, living in the tent as punishment. As someone who has lived through a Phoenix summer, that is not any place you want to be in the heat.

He’s also known for his stances on using a posse, but most notably, he is known for racial profiling of Hispanics in the county. Just this past Friday, he and three of his sheriffs were held in contempt of court for ignoring a 2011 court ruling that, essentially, told them to stop targeting Latinos during traffic stops. During all this courtroom hullaballoo, he thought it wise to apparently hire a private investigator to follow the judge’s wife in some scheme to discredit the judge and have him removed from the case. It didn’t work, but it’s not something completely unexpected from the colorful sheriff.

His no-nonsense approach to law enforcement is a bit disconcerting, as he tends to do so at the expense of the law, innocent people, and his staff. His antics have persisted since 1993, but could this be the end of Sheriff Joe? Will he soon be forced to don the very pink underwear and sleep in the very tent city he established?


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