By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
The Threat Squad supposedly exists to investigate death threats against Arpaio and other public figures. But sources say the squad's recent efforts have been directed at finding the identities of those who are posting freewheeling messages on the site.
Some postings are rumors, some are rants. Some, by guys like police union leader Mike Pennington, who uses his real name, are impassioned, detailed and accurate narratives of the horrific working conditionscreated under Arpaio's watch.
All of it is constitutionally protected free speech regarding a public figure.
Take this recent posting from alleged Public Enemy No. 1, the loquacious Mr. Ooops!
Replying to another missive that discussed the sheriff's recent meeting with top politicos as Arpaio teases us about whether he'll run for governor (isn't there already a campaign slogan: Just Say No!), Mr. Ooops! says:
"His many meetings at 'Tom's Tavern' with some of Arizona's political heavyweights have finally impressed upon him that he really IS an idiot with absolutely no idea about what they're talking about. And, here he was thinking that being 'Arizona's Ambassador' would only entail constant press conferences, more taxpayer-subsidized stunts, and really cool trips to high-rolling parties aboard state-owned aircraft.
"Who would have thought that he would be expected to really know something about education, transportation or finance. Boy, that stuff is REALLY boring, and stupid too! He'd rather keep that fancy office on the nineteenth floor and talk all day long about how tough he is to people who really want to believe it."
Several contributors to the Web site, and some who aren't contributors, say family members or supervisors have been contacted by Threat Squad officers searching for computer records that would match them with Arpaio.com postings. One Web site poster claimed deputies were visiting homes of suspected MCSO posters demanding access to their computers.
The Threat Squad costs taxpayers about $250,000 a year.
Still, Mr. Ooops!, who is particularly clever and insightful, remains at large.
The squad is, of course, being funded even as the county jails remain dangerously short of detention staff. Money is so tight that the department is running out of ammunition for training and rubber gloves that deputies need to safely handle bloody crime scenes. Thousands of unserved warrants sit in MCSO offices because the department's warrants division was closed due to staff and cash shortfalls.
The Spike's political advice: Instead of hunting political enemies, Arpaio might want to use those deputies to protect the voters of the state from getting killed. Then, once he's voted in as governor, he can have DPS do all the witch-hunting he wants.