Controversial Sheriff Arpaio “Stings” With Fox Reality Channel


In the last two weeks, the Fox Reality Channel has broadcast “Smile–You're Under Arrest,” a prank-fueled effort to bring nonviolent offenders with outstanding warrants in or near Phoenix to justice, says New York Times media columnist David Carr. Television producers, with the enthusiastic assent of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, sent notices to scofflaws suggesting that they had won a contest and need only show up to claim a $300 prize. Once there, they are hoodwinked into participating in fake fashion shows or movie shoots before uniformed deputies come out from behind the curtain and slap bracelets on them. “I don't care how you do it,” says Arpaio, who likes to be known as “America's toughest sheriff.” “I just want to put these guys in jail.”

The alliance between law enforcement and reality television is a durable one, with “Cops” serving as a long-running proof that law-abiding citizens love watching nonlaw-abiding citizens being brought to justice. Arpaio is already a staple of television in Arizona. Among other stunts, he set up tent cities as jails, organized immigration sweeps of Hispanic neighborhoods, staged training operations in Honduras and last year, arrested journalists who had written negatively about his tenure. One critic is Michael Manning, a lawyer who has sued Arpaio on behalf of clients in wrongful death cases: “We have 40,000 unserved felony warrants – murderers and rapists – and instead of serving those warrants, we have this buffoon who spends his time popping out from behind curtains for a reality television show. He continues to demean our community by chasing publicity and acting the buffoon.”


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