SHERIFF JOE ARPAIO America’s Toughest Sheriff By Daniel Del Valle
First elected into office in 1992, Sheriff Joseph M. Arpaio has been successfully reelected to an unprecedented sixth 4-year term as Sheriff of Maricopa County in the State of Arizona. Sheriff Arpaio is known as “America’s Toughest Sheriff,” a name given to him years ago by the media. He has built a reputation for fighting crime and drug trafficking in the world and is the head of our nation’s third largest Sheriff’s Office which employs over 3,400 people. As the top law enforcement officer in Maricopa County, Sheriff Arpaio is known for his ‘get tough’ policies and outspoken stance as an advocate for strong enforcement of immigration law.
NJ Blue Now: Sheriff, What made you initially go into law enforcement? Sheriff Joe Arpaio: When I was young I had always wanted to be an FBI agent. I joined the army when I turned 18 and graduated from high school. The Korean War broke out all about the same time. I went into the army for three years then pursued my dreams of being in law enforcement.
Where did you first start your career? I joined the Washington, D.C. Police Department. Then when I was 21, the Metropolitan Police; and then went to the Las Vegas Police Department for a short time. I was lucky enough to get the federal narcotic agent position. I spent 28 years fighting drugs around the world.
When did you decide to become a sheriff? I decided in 1992 when I was 60 years old that I would run for sheriff. I’ve been sheriff for 21 years and have been working 50 years in law enforcement.
So, what is known as the DEA today was known as the Bureau of Narcotics during that time? I was sworn in with the Federal Bureau of Narcotics Treasury Department. Then it became Bureau of Narcotics in Dangerous Drugs to the Drug Enforcement Administration. They kept reorganizing, so now it’s called the DEA.
How old are you now? Eighty-one and proud of it.
Most people who are 81 years old are enjoying retirement. Why aren’t you doing the same? That’s a good question. Let me put it this way. I don’t have any family problems or big issues to cause me to retire, so I do it. I just wish I ran for sheriff a little sooner than when I was 60.
I meet sheriffs all the time, and they don’t have even 5 percent of the type of publicity or stress that you have. With all these lawsuits and controversies, does that take a toll on you? I don’t have any stress. I got the White House, the Department of Justice, ACLU, politicians and everybody stirring in the pot, but you don’t see me worrying about it.
Sheriff, in your opinion, when an inmate comes to your jail, what is the purpose? Do you want to rehabilitate or punish him? Read more...
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