Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone wraps up his first year with high praise for how he is turning around the enforcement agency in the county.
“We’re a law enforcement agency so our primary focus is public safety,” Penzone says. “I think historically so much of what went on in this organization is to bring a story to the media, and if we’re doing that then we’re distracted from our focus.”
Penzone focuses on having a personal and respectful relationship with everyone he meets in his line of work. He says it’s important to have a respectful conversation in order to restore trust. He says it helps to walk away from a conversation understanding that everyone talking have different perspectives on what had been said. It’s one of the reasons he as a strong relationship with the Latino community, but that relationship didn’t start when he was elected sheriff.
One of the largest accomplishments by the sheriff in the past year is tearing down Tent City and replacing it with the MOSAIC program. The program is designed to help people get off drugs and become a valuable member of society once again. By converting the Tent City buildings into dorms, the sheriff was able to save money. He also reassigned staff members to manage the dorms so it wouldn’t cost taxpayers anything.
Penzone’s future goals include meeting the threshold of compliance in order to improve the approval ratings. When he took office, only one category had an above 50 percent approval rating. A year later under his command, every category exceeds 50 percent and he wants to see that number continue to climb.
“It’s going to take time, [and it’s important] to understand why it’s taking time. On the other end of this, I am confident this will be one of the best law enforcement agencies in the nation.”