Joe Arpaio Lost Track Of 50 Automatic Weapons, So Fast, So Furious!
During the 24 years Joe Arpaio was getting praise for being the super-tough sheriff of Maricopa County, he somehow let at least 50 Sheriff's Office firearms get lost or stolen, according to an ongoing audit. Sheriff Paul Penzone, who beat Arpaio in the 2016 election, announced partial results of the audit Friday. Penzone had ordered a complete inventory of missing Maricopa County Sheriff's Office weapons last November, after a shootout in which a man who had two stolen sheriff's office weapons in his car was shot and killed by police. Penzone said the 50-odd guns were all lost or stolen before he became sheriff, so he didn't actually have to name who was in charge when THAT happened. The Arizona Republicreports the missing weapons included "29 fully automatic weapons, 20 short-barrel shotguns and one short-barrel rifle."
Shoot, a fella could have a pretty good weekend in Phoenix with all that stuff!
Penzone couldn't identify exactly when all the guns went missing because the audit is still ongoing; he also noted that the number of missing weapons could rise as the investigation continues.
While he was at it, Penzone also announced the suspension of a sheriff's posse program that had been put in place by Arpaio. The posse program allowed armed civilians to ride along with deputies and make siren noises with their mouths. Turns out that the 235 enrolled posse members were supposed to complete training and background checks so they wouldn't be a danger to themselves or others, but in another itty-bitty oversight, only four had completed all six stages. Penzone said the shortcomings in the posse program had been turned up in a separate audit.
This, too, came from poor management from "past administrations," he said.
Those stages include doing a background check, personal history interview, a polygraph test, a urine test, a psychological exam and being certified to use and legally use a firearm.
The posse, like everything else Arpaio did to make himself a hero to the gun-humping and We Heart Cops (But Not Mere Laws) crowd, tended to be big on looking tough, and a bit short on quality control. Back in 2014, when the hot fashion was sending armed guards to watch over schools so no mass shootings would happen, members of the Sheriff's Posse showed up unannounced at several schools in Arpaio's jurisdiction, and Arpaio 'splained, "It doesn't matter whether they like it or don't [...] I'm still going to do it. I can't imagine criticism coming when they're given free protection."
Oh, and what a fine collection of mugs, pugs, thugs, nitwits, halfwits, dimwits, vipers, snipers, and Methodists turned out to be members of the posse! It was a veritable cornucopia of bad guys with guns, including a dude who choked his girlfriend while trying to rape her (he threatened to call the cops if she didn't have sex with him, saying they'd take his side since he had a badge, too). There was another fella who made it onto the posse despite an altercation with several bouncers outside a nightclub (it was only a misdemeanor!), and also a nice gent who loved law and order so much that after someone backed into his private car and drove off, he chased 'em, rammed 'em, and then held the other driver at gunpoint. And remained on the posse.
Oh, yeah, and then there was the posse member who'd been convicted of sex crimes against children. Dude liked to go trolling online for underaged girls, and actually worked for Arpaio in the Sheriff's Office until his 2009 arrest. Despite his conviction and being ordered to stay away from children, the guy nonetheless turned up on the posse, although it's unclear whether he was sent to patrol any schools, so hey, that's definitely an upside.
The missing guns and posse hijinks all went on while Arpaio was letting sex crimes investigations lapse because he was too busy chasing after scary Messicans to check their immigration status. Yes, in violation of a federal judge's order to knock it the fuck off with the racial profiling, for which he was later convicted of misdemeanor contempt of court. But don't worry, he ignored his duty and the court order because he loved America, and so Donald Trump pardoned him.
Golly, it's almost as if Arpaio had been more interested in being a big rightwing celebrity, busting up cock-fighting rings with Steven Seagal and a tank, and finding Barack Obama's birf certificate, than in running a law enforcement agency. Who ever woulda thunk it! Wonder if he'll need a whole new presidential pardon for letting a bunch of MCSO's military-grade weapons walk off to parts unknown?
Penzone ordered the audit November 1, days after a high-speed freeway chase ended with the suspect, Arnaldo Caraveo, getting into a gun battle with state troopers and Mesa police. Caraveo was killed, and two officers were injured by shards of glass. Caraveo was found to have a "rifle and a long gun" that had been stolen from MCSO; he had a record of trafficking in stolen property, including firearms.
When Penzone announced the audit in November, he said at least 29 guns had been identified as lost or missing between 2010 and 2015 in an audit completed by Arpaio in 2016 -- but later clarified one of the two guns found in Caraveo's vehicle hadn't been accounted for in that earlier audit. HMMM. Penzone also didn't say whether the two stolen guns had originated as part of a Department of Defense program that handed military surplus gear to local law enforcement. But it sure seems Arpaio had a hard time keeping track of goodies that came from the Pentagon's "1033 Program."
In 2014, then-Sheriff Arpaio admitted that nine firearms his office received through the 1033 Program had gone missing. Arpaio said the agency picked up about 200 weapons from the surplus program shortly after he was elected in 1993, and 20 to 22 had vanished over the years. Some of those were later recovered.
When Arpaio was asked in November about how the hell he lost track of a few freaking automatic weapons, he said that's old news and isn't there a new sheriff to blame?
"My only comment is that when some weapons weren't accounted for, my staff took appropriate action," Arpaio said. "I'm not sheriff anymore. I'm not privy to all the files, and I'm not privy to the investigation."
And now that he has at least some idea of what guns he has to go looking for, Penzone said last week he's gonna try to account for as many as possible.
"We must be an organization of high integrity and ethics in everything that we do," Penzone said, including in acquiring and maintaining firearms. "We will meet the highest standards." [...]
In order to recover the missing or stolen guns, he said that his office, along with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, will send letters to 7,300 former and current MCSO employees asking them to return the weapons or, if they have information about weapons' whereabouts, to notify authorities.
Penzone said those who may have received a weapon as a gift not knowing it was stolen or belonged to MCSO are going to be asked to return it immediately.
Maybe some will turn up buried in the great big pile of shit, rotting bologna, and pink underwear Arpaio left behind.
And you'd better believe Arpaio's still hoping to become a US senator -- he's just the sort of upstanding American Arizona loves, and nothing like that terrible Barack Obama. Now THERE'S a terrible grandstander who needs to rot in prison for continuing George W. Bush's failed "Fast and Furious" investigation, which sold guns to bad guys with the intention of snaring gun-runners, but lost track of the weapons, some of which ended up with drug cartels. Totally different thing.
[Arizona Republic / Arizona Republic / Salon / CNN]
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