Sheriff Paul Penzone steps down
Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone announced in a press conference he will step down in January 2024, a year before his current term ends. Penzone said stepping down would allow him to pursue other opportunities. We welcomed Penzone to Arizona Horizon to discuss it.
“It was important to make sure that, as I end my time as sheriff, that I leave everything in a good place,” Penzone said.
Penzone is excited for what the future holds for him and his family. Politics is not in his future, he said, and he does not plan on running for office.
“At some point, you have to give to the office what the people have asked for, which is a newly elected sheriff, a new leadership team,” Penzone said. “The idea that whether there is a judge or fellow monitoring team that is better equipped to move forward in law enforcement, if that’s the case, we have real problems.”
Penzone spoke about the federal oversight of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s office led by Monitor Robert Warshaw. The oversight comes from a 2007 lawsuit against Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The department violated the rights of Latinos by racially profiling and conducting unlawful traffic stops.
“We are turning our back on immigration law completely and making this an open border nation, and it shouldn’t be,” Penzone said. “We should be abiding by the rules and laws as everyone else should when they come to our nation.”
Other critics highlight a failure to comply with court mandates and a failure to hold officers accountable.
According to Penzone, they have investigated more internal affairs cases in his 10 years than in the entire history of the sheriff’s office. The problem is that the federal court oversight was so broad that they couldn’t catch up to their demand, he said.
Penzone said he saw a 25% cut in their staffing during COVID-19 and civil unrest with protests like Black Lives Matter and the elections.
“Why are we paying someone so much to tell law enforcement how to do their job when you don’t have stake in the game?” Penzone asked.