From the week of April 12, 2001

Whale Done

Making waves: There you go again. You wrote a brilliant, interesting story about whale hunting, etc. ("Dying Breeds," David Holthouse, March 29). I really enjoyed it. I was shocked about the stinking whale meat problem. I think the population is starving like you said. All the arguments fit exactly as you called it. But keep us informed on a follow-up to see if this is correct. I am afraid that plankton catastrophes in the ocean will do what the whalers could not do because of climate changes. I hope I am wrong 100 percent on this, but I fear the most. Clearly, all beached whales should be examined for evidence of starvation.

Have a great 2001. Articles like this are great even though they are not local news but we know that many Arizonans go to the coast to hit those whale-watching boats. I still have not been, darn.

Name withheld by request

Just Say Joe

Dollars and tents: As an employee of the Sheriff's Office, I cannot agree with you more about your recent article ("Joe Arpaio's Balloon Payments," Robert Nelson, April 5). Morale is at an all-time low and getting lower as the weeks go by. This was once a proud office to work for, but not anymore. The sheriff and his band of overpriced chiefs (how many other agencies have 14 chiefs?) have demoralized a great many of us. Now that the office is in this budget crisis, the sheriff and Hendershott plan on dealing with this problem by starting at the bottom, making all of us suffer while they still keep their perks. First, they eliminated overtime pay, then they forced us to work a rearranged schedule, taking time away from our families. Now they are forcing us to use our comp time, all of this so Hendershott can get his raise. Yet the sheriff expects us to remain faithful to him. Sure, he can say that he had fought hard for our raises, but the pay-raise plan had been in place long before Arpaio came along. Even with the raises, we are still one of the lowest-paid law enforcement agencies in the county, if not the nation.

I wonder if the public knows that with all of the cuts the sheriff has made, there are hard-core criminals walking the streets, free to commit more crime, costing the citizens hardship and grief. Arpaio and his staff axed the warrants unit and axed participation in the fugitive task force unit. Criminal investigations have also suffered, with detectives only allowed to work 40 hours per week. Once a detective reaches 40 hours, he is told to go home, which leaves investigations undone. Murderers, rapists, molesters, thieves and others are free to continue with their criminal activity until the detective returns to resume the investigation, pending other cases that land on the detective's desk. Criminals can rest assured they won't be pursued as long as they commit their crimes in unincorporated Maricopa County or in the contract cities.

A long time ago, the sheriff put a slogan on our patrol cars: "Protect and Serve." This office protects and serves all right, just ask his 14 chiefs.

Name withheld by request

Court press: A couple of points in your article really need to be explored, as they didn't tell the whole story.

First, Sheriff Arpaio did indeed move into the Wells Fargo building. But you did not say what happened to his old offices in the county building at 101 West Jefferson. Why not? I can tell you what happened to them: They replaced an old 911 dispatch center from the early 1980s, reflecting the needs of a county which has exploded in growth and 911 service needs in that same time frame. I'd say that $3 million was a bargain compared to the potential cost of getting a busy signal on a 911 call. It wasn't just the sheriff moving into a swank penthouse by any means. You're looking at where the sheriff went, not what he left.

Second, county voters approved a new jail, which is going to be built in downtown Phoenix. The reason is very obvious: Downtown is where the courts are. Arrestees need to go to court, it's just that basic. The whole constitutional Sixth Amendment thing, speedy trial and all that, you know. Madison Jail is where bail is posted; they take Visa and MasterCard, but the Avondale jail wasn't ever so equipped. Family members, friends, lawyers, all of them wind up in downtown Phoenix where the courts are. So what's so horrible about Buckeye police officers going there? Citizens are just as inconvenienced, posting bail at Madison Jail and then having to go to Durango or Estrella jails to pick up their friends. Plus, Buckeye P.D. has two holding cells in their own building, so it's not as if they have no way to lock anybody up until they get to Madison Jail. Inmates need access to courts, and they won't get it locked up in Avondale.

Since when is police work about convenience anyway? Transportation costs are ultimately paid for by the taxpayer, no matter who does it. I'd suggest it's a lot better to transport a prisoner one time than it is to leapfrog from jail to jail.

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