I’m going to go ahead and assume that by now, most of you recognize the name Sheriff Joseph Arpaio. You know, the sheriff of Maricopa county — “America’s Toughest Sheriff” — who is famous for prisoner abuse, particularly against undocumented immigrants, has a long list of inmate deaths and injuries, and is currently under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department?
Well, Arpaio is indeed really, really “tough” . . . unless we’re talking about sexual assault, of course. Allegations have recently been made that the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office isn’t properly investigating sexual assault cases:
The Goldwater Institute could not say how many cases other law enforcement agencies clear by exception- one of the main reasons the institute is pushing for legislation that would require investigators to designate that data.
The Sheriff’s Office appears to be the worst offender, Bolick said, because the sheriff’s clearance rate on cases is higher than most other agencies.
Sheriff’s officials point to those statistics as evidence of quality police work, but Bolick said it could easily be the result of clearing too many cases through exception instead of arrest.
“We can’t say, no one can say, what the reality of the situation is,” he said.
In 2008, the Sheriff’s Office reported to county officials that about 1,300 of 9,500 cases investigated, or about 14 percent, were cleared with arrests. The same report shows that detectives cleared a total of about 7,200 cases. That would mean a large majority of cleared cases were from one of several other ways, including the case was unfounded or was given an “exceptional clearance.”
The FBI’s standards for clearing cases through exception state that the investigation should have: established the identity of a suspect; gathered enough information to support an arrest, charge and review from prosecutors; determined the exact location of the suspect; and cited a reason outside investigators control that would prevent arrest and prosecution.
In another article, Bolick says that one such reason that could prevent arrest and prosecution is “because the suspect is dead or is currently incarcerated and can not be extradited.” Surely, given all of the standards above, I imagine that you would be just as eager as I am to see how exactly they managed to clear about 75% of their cases through such means. Especially when they have documented instances where such a method of clearing the case was seemingly incredibly improper.
It’s also worth noting that, confusingly enough, the Goldwater Institute is not a civil liberties group or victim’s advocacy organization. They’re a conservative think tank. Which means I would normally ignore whatever they have to say. So I’m left here scratching my head at the idea that “tough on crime,” anti-immigrants conservatives who generally give Arpaio hero-like status would be going after his office with such allegations. It really makes me wonder just how bad exactly things are. Because while I may simply be unimaginative, if there’s an ulterior motive out there, I’m not seeing it at the moment.
But I do know that there is very little I put past Joe Arpaio and his office. And I know that Arpaio actually cares very little about crime, and cares a whole lot more about racist means of law enforcement and grandstanding for the media. So would I be surprised to learn that his “toughness” only extends to locking up and abusing immigrants who just needed a job, and falls short on prosecuting rapists? No. Rather, I’d expect it.
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