Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Criminal Playground

This week the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, at the request of Sheriff Arpaio will go back into session (open this time) to end the County contract that provides police services to Guadalupe. Sheriff Arpaio made the request based on a prior spat between himself and former Mayor Jimenez. As a result, this one mile barrio wedged between Ahwatukee, Phoenix and Tempe will be without police services in 180 days.

Some see this as just deserts. Guadalupe’s Mayor told Arpaio she didn’t want him conducting immigration sweeps, so he’s showing them by packing up and leaving – calling their bluff if you will. But here’s the thing….this decision by Arpaio has real consequences, with real winners and losers. The winners are criminals. The losers are residents and business in and around Guadalupe.

With no police or law-enforcement Guadalupe will be a playground for criminals. I can just imagine street gangs and hardened thugs salivating at the idea of being able to go about their business without interference from law enforcement. Now, I’m not suggesting that Guadalupe become an apocalyptic wasteland - but criminals are creatures of opportunity – when they see something that they perceive as weakness, they attack.

If Guadalupe is to be without law enforcement, is it not reasonable to believe that crime will increase? And if crime increases, is it not reasonable to believe that it might spill over into the neighboring areas? How about Arizona Mills – will consumers be wary of shopping so close to the lawless parcel of land but a few hundred yards away? How about residents in and along the Guadalupe Street bridge over the I-10, are they to expect a Phoenix Police barricade to deal with increasing crime blocks away?

Sheriff Arpaio’s actions in this case are truant of his responsibility as a law enforcement officer. The dispute with Guadalupe over the immigration sweeps is moot. The Sheriff is by law empowered to conduct his sweeps in Guadalupe whenever he likes, and Arpaio knows this. The termination of Guadalupe’s contact was political payback; nothing more, nothing less.

This November the residents of Maricopa County will have an opportunity to end the heavy handed Tammany Hall style politics displayed by Mr. Arpaio as for the first time in 16 years a well financed challenger; Chief Dan Saban will be facing off against him on the November ballot. I hope that Mr. Saban becomes our next Sheriff, the County re-negotiates this contract, and the little barrio of Guadalupe has police on the street – keeping all of us safe.



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