David Shepherd: News Blog

Journalist's Notebook

WTWO In-Depth With the “Toughest Cop in America”

By: David Shepherd [dshepherd@wtwo.com]

Terre Haute, IN He’s been called the toughest cop in America.  Arizona’s Maricopa County, sheriff, Joe Arpaio has long been


 criticized for his over-the-top, and often controversial methods of keeping law and order.

He’s currently being investigated by the White House and members of Congress for those methods.

The sheriff was in Sullivan Saturday stumping for the republican candidate for Indiana’s 8th district House seat.

In an exclusive interview, Arpaio tells WTWO, “Listen, they call me a genius.”

Never dull and often controversial, Maricopa County’s sheriff, Joe Arpaio, just can’t seem to get out of the media spot-light.

“Everyone is investigating me in Washington, DC.  The White House, mayors; they all seem to be democrats.  What is this?  A political thing every time I lock up an illegal alien?”

Since Arizona’s tough new approach to immigration reform took affect, the man known as the toughest cop in America has become the face of anti-illegal immigration laws.

He says he’s enforcing the law but critics often attack his methods.

Arpaio says, “Let them come after me.  I always have a come back when they try to get at me.  They’re all the activists and some politicians.”

He’s drawn sharp criticism from those who say his methods go too far.

“I’m going to go down as a pink underwear sheriff.”

Yes, you read that correctly.  Arpaio forces male inmates at his jail to wear pink underwear.  “They hate pink.  Why would I give them a color they like?  They may like pink in some other states but they don’t like it where I’m the sheriff.”

But it doesn’t end there.  The sheriff has constructed a tent city outside for some inmates to live.

Just last week, Arpaio said it was 138 degrees in those tents.  “Our men and women are fighting for our country.  They’re living in tents.  So, what’s wrong with convicted, I only put convicted people there, doing their time in a tent…next to the dump, the dog pound and the waste disposal plant.”

Whether you agree or disagree with his methods, it appears he has supporters in his hometown.

He’s been elected sheriff 5 terms in a row and he says he has no plans to go anywhere.

“I’m not going away,” Arpaio says confidently.    I’m sure there are a lot of people who want me to go away.  So, I’m running again in 2012.”

U.S. officials say they have threatened to sue the Maricopa County sheriff if he refuses to cooperate in a discrimination investigation.


August 23, 2010 Posted by | News & Current Events | , , , , , , | Leave a comment