Former Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona’s Maricopa County has lots of time on his hands as he waits to go on trial next month on charges he defied a federal judge’s order to stop singling out Latinos for traffic stops, reports the New York Times. There was a time when it almost did not matter what other elected officials said or did about immigration. His was the only voice that counted. Now the positions he embraces — more agents on the border, more power to local police agencies to enforce federal immigration law — are emanating from the Oval Office.
Arpaio attributes his ouster from office to President Barack Obama, as well as the federal judge who charged him with criminal contempt of court three weeks before the general election, and the voters who turned their backs on him. At his former office, Arpaio’s successor, Paul Penzone, is working to redefine the role of the agency, which for so long revolved around the personality of the man in charge. “There was an expectation by the media that this office was really a story generator,” said Penzone, a former Phoenix police sergeant. There were also, he said, “a lot of men and women in this organization who came to work believing it was their job to identify methods to promote the former sheriff.” The case against Arpaio was started by Obama’s Justice Department, but will end with Donald Trump’s. If convicted of criminal contempt of court, a misdemeanor, Arpaio could spend six months in jail.