Sheriff Joe Launches Coup Against Rest of County Government

It appears that our Maricopa County government (which is the county that Phoenix is in) has risen to new levels of dysfunctionality.  Apparently our Sheriff Joe Arpaio missed his calling as South American general, launching a coup last week against the rest of the county government (for whom he supposedly works).

Maricopa County sheriff's deputies on Wednesday stormed into a county building, seized control of a computer system and threatened to arrest county employees if they tried to stop them, according to county officials.

County management responded by asking a Maricopa County Superior Court judge for a temporary restraining order against the Sheriff's Office.

The system, which provides access to law-enforcement databases, is the subject of a lawsuit between the Sheriff's Office and the Board of supervisors.

It links county computers to Department of Public Safety databases, which store criminal background information. But it also is a server and e-mail platform for several county agencies, including the Sheriff's and County Attorney's offices and the Superior Court.

Its management is the subject of a 2003 interagency agreement. But in light of recent layoffs of system operators due to budget cuts and squabbles among the agencies, the Sheriff's Office felt that sensitive data that should be the sole domain of law enforcement had become too available to the system's civilian administrators, who work for County Manager David Smith and the supervisors....

"The sheriff did not receive permission from - or give notice to - any other elected official or stakeholder agency before barging in with armed officers and demanding that he be given exclusive control," he said.

It turns out that the Sheriff's concern about protecting confidential information could well be a smokescreen.  For years, the Sheriff's office has been, unsuccessfully, attempting to gain access via the courts to records and emails from other departments, information that, coincidentally, resides on the seized servers.

Just as the Sheriff's Office is concerned about civilians' access to records, county management is concerned the Sheriff's Office now has access to information from other county agencies it is investigating, such as the Superior Court. State appellate courts have rebuffed Arpaio's attempts to obtain privileged court e-mails, which would be accessible through the system. Superior Court Judge Joseph Heilman has scheduled a hearing for today regarding the restraining order.


  1. Not Sure:

    "Just as the Sheriff’s Office is concerned about civilians’ access to records, county management is concerned the Sheriff’s Office now has access to information from other county agencies it is investigating, such as the Superior Court."

    Government spying on itself? Because spying on the average taxpayer is just so... yesterday.

    I'm sure, though, this is a problem that can only be solved by- wait for it- more government. Right?

  2. nom de guerre:

    in other news, the AP informs us that the cop who bravely arrested the mouthy harvard the prof's own home....after he'd *seen* the prof's ID and *knew* the prof was the homeowner, and not the prowler he'd been sent to look for.....THAT cop....

    THAT cop received a standing O from thousands of other cops as he addressed a FOP rally in california. couple that with all the other notorious outta-control-coppers incidents AND sherf joe's blitzkreig assualt on his so-called superiors, and i gotta say i really don't think they're too worried about what we the people (or, in copspeak, "civilians") think of them anymore.

  3. Rick C:

    nom de guerre, what's your point? First off, of _course_ other cops stood up for him. Second, you're misrepresenting the incident: Gates was arrested OUTSIDE his home, and he wasn't arrested for attempted burglary, b&e, or anything like that: he was arrested for contempt of cop.

    I don't particularly like the idea of such BS arrests, myself, but I'm also not stupid enough to pick a fight, verbal or otherwise, with one.

  4. nom de guerre:

    my "point", rick? ok, let's run my points through what you wrote, one at a time.

    1) "of *course* the other cops stood up for him". yeah, they did - just like they always do. they'll always back the cop, each and every time, no matter what the facts of the case are. rather like....oh....rather like mob guys do. or crips. or motorcycle gangs. do we really want our cops aping the code of "honor" of biker gangs? are we really going to accept that cops will perjure themselves rather than tell the truth about other cops? sorta makes that whole "cops whining about the 'don't snitch' culture of the inner city" seem a little *ironic*, don't it?

    2) "gates was arrested outside his home" because supercop lured him out. supercop knew he couldn't make an arrest as long as gates was in his own home, so he said "c'mon out and let's talk about it." gates, being the leftwing moron he is, foolishly accepted. a harvard professor actually made the idiotic mistake of thinking a cop was speaking the truth to him. amazing but true.

    3) "he was arrested for contempt of cop". funny, i'm not familiar with that law. does it have a legitimate penal code? like murder? or breaking and entering? are there legally defined parameters for that offense? no? it's really a made-up BS charge, randomly and unevenly enforced at each cop's individual discretion? so unless we speak to the cops with sniveling deference and toadying ass-kissing, we're in danger of being arrested on a made-up charge? is that why the founders started this country? so we could all suck up to the cops?

    THAT'S my point, rick: we have out-of-control cops using lies and police-state methods as their primary tools. and they've been doing so (and getting away with it) for so long now, they're entirely comfortable with using those methods on elderly homeowners who have no criminal record, now. what do you think they'll be doing in 10 years? 20? i've seen cops doing full-blown, guns drawn 'felony stops' on cars driven by grampaws and high-school girls in pom-pom outfits. will they start preemptively tasering everybody in the car next? in the name of "officer safety", of course?

  5. gadfly:

    Talking about the idiotic Gates fiasco is hijacking this comment thread. So back to the subject at hand.

    Sheriff Joe's right-hand man, Chief Deputy David Hendershott used impeccable logic in explaining why the MCSO took over the computer. "We felt intrusion (into the system) was imminent," Hendershott said.

    This argument is reminiscent of Obama's arguments for takeover of 16 percent of the US economy in the form of our Health Care system. The difference, of course, is that the courts can stop Hendershott.

    Hendershott may soon find himself on the wrong side of some jail cell bars if the does not tell the hearing judge what the new system password is.

  6. Rick C:

    nom, in case I didn't make it clear, I don't approve of Gates' arrest. Nonetheless, your description of events "supercop lured him out" isn't really accurate or fair. Perhaps if superprof hadn't hassled the cop, who was only trying to make sure nobody'd broken into Gates' house, Gates wouldn't have been arrested.

    As for your point 3, are you serious? Obviously "contempt of cop" isn't an actual enumerated crime. Are you being coy, or are you unaware that "disorderly conduct" is generally a BS charge that cops use because someone pissed 'em off? I don't approve of that, either, but, again, I'm not stupid enough (apparently unlike a Hahvahd prof) to hassle a cop to the point of getting myself arrested.

    What's going on here is that everyone involved covered themselves with the opposite of glory. Then again, if Gates hadn't opened his front door with a chip on his shoulder, and said, "why sure, officer, I understand why you're out here; here's my ID. Please call the campus cops for additional verification of my identity" then the situation would've been completely different. I have no idea what Crowley's attitude was before he knocked on the door, but right or wrong, Gates made it worse. Is there a way they can both lose? But your comments imply you want to make it all Crowley's fault for picking on the poor innocent professor, and that's almost certainly not the case.

    Let me give you an actual example of a vaguely similar situation that ended dramatically differently. I got pulled over by a cop early July for driving with an expired inspection sticker. By the time the cop radioed back to HQ and walked up to me, I had my window down, the engine off, and my license and registration ready. Was I pissed that I got stopped for such a BS thing? Somewhat, altho it was mitigated by the fact that it was, in fact, my fault for failing to get the inspection on time. Did I open up by "why are you stopping me, pig? Have you caught all the murderers and rapists?" Of course not. Why? Because I don't feel like getting arrested, and in a similar manner to the way I wouldn't feel comfortable insulting a mugger.

    I don't disagree with you AT ALL about cops being overbearing, and in a desperate attempt to wrench some topicality out of this, I see Sheriff Joe's actions as something much more worthy of concern.

    Frankly I think is a MUCH more interesting/less abusive way of dealing with an irate citizen than what Crowley did.

  7. elambend:

    Where's the governor on this??

  8. Michael:

    This could be good. Sheriff Joe Arpaio could find himself with a much smaller budget next year.

    Rick, great clip. I liked how the guy found religion when told the ticket was $137. I hope Bill Clinton worked out for him.

  9. nom de guerre:

    rick, i can see there's no arguing with you, so please: feel free to roll over and display submissive behavior to any and all cops, if that's what you want to do. i'm sure our brave security forces will appreciate your fawning attitude and instant obedience to their commands. hell, cops being allowed to attack citizens for pissing them off is in the constitution, right? cops having the right to taze impertinent grannies is why we fought them nazis back in ww duece, right?

    getting back to col. arpaio's coup - whoops, meant to say "sheriff arpaio" - i think elambend makes an interesting point: what does the governor have to say about this? or the legislature? since el commandante maximo arpaio is making a move on the superior courts' files, i can't imagine *they'll* be too pleased. the only organization more insistent upon instant obedience (or else!) than the cops is the courts.

    this could get interesting. who'd win in a fight between the phoenix PD and the national guard?

  10. Rick C:

    nom, by all means, please continue with the ad hominems. I'm sure they prove what a great debater you are.

    Also, feel free to verbally harass cops when you have interactions with them. It's your right! Be sure to let us know how it goes after you're released.

    I have no intention of "roll[ing] over and display[ing] submissive behavior" (nice strawman and false choice rolled into one, there.) If you can't see any middle ground between insulting people and bootlicking, well, that's YOUR problem, not mine, and ISTM you are the one with the problem arguing.

  11. HS:

    Sounds like a lot of corruption and criminal activity for someone to be desperate enough to do something like this. Which side? Who knows, maybe both. Don't believe everything that you read though, I learned that the hard way.

  12. Jim Collins:

    Uhhhhh Get two servers? How hard would it be? Looks to me like you have two sufferers of the "He-Man" syndrome. You know. "I have the power!!!". This is just a juvinile turf fight.

  13. Michael:

    I think it is appropriate for the servers to be under the control of the courts. The data could be subject to court orders and discovery issues. A DA is less likely to violate discovery than police.