Maricopa County, Az., sheriff’s detectives have been secretly tape-recording phone conversations with prosecutors after a botched prostitution investigation, the Arizona Reublic reports. Paul Ahler, chief deputy to County Attorney Rick Romley, says the taping undermines trust among law enforcement personnel and could lead to legal problems in criminal cases. “It is unfortunate that the Sheriff’s Office has decided to tape-record conversations with our staff,” Ahler wrote to Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s chief deputy, David Hendershott. “Aside from the legal issues that it presents, it seriously undermines the effective working relationships between the departments.”
The dispute is the latest between the sheriff and county attorney. Ahler said he believes the recording policy evolved from a dispute over sheriff’s tactics in a two-month massage-parlor investigation last year. In June, prosecutors announced that they were dropping charges against all 60 defendants in the sting because undercover agents undressed and had sexual contact with suspects. Referring to Ahler’s letter as “a weep of crocodile-tear proportions,” said a sheriff’s office official. “They lament a problem that is their own creation. . . . Our deputies have to take precautions.” The Republic says the battle is part of a relentless war between Maricopa County’s top law enforcement figures. For nearly a decade, Arpaio and Romley, both Republicans, have fought over jail conditions, investigative methods, budgeting, prosecutorial decisions, and other issues.