Letters from the week of August 19, 2004

 Editor's note: John Dougherty's August 5 column "Dog Day Afternoon" generated more than 1,000 letters and telephone calls from outraged readers. They were mostly from Maricopa County residents, but many came from other locales across the country. Printed here are a representative selection of this outpouring. As usual, because of Sheriff Joe Arpaio's reputation for retaliation, New Times is not publishing the identities of those critical of the sheriff's policies.


What we're all wondering: I am writing to let you know that your recent column, "Dog Day Afternoon," went coast to coast. I read it in the press here in New York, where I live, and my brother read it in a San Francisco newspaper. What the rest of us in the country want to know is: How can the people of Phoenix keep electing this idiot as sheriff?! How can a scumbag like this be the most popular politician in Arizona?! Surely, after all of John Dougherty's stories (which I looked up after I read this astounding piece on the dog's murder), that can't be anymore.

Joe Arpaio truly makes your city and your state look bad. He makes it appear that the place must be populated by a bunch of mean, dumber-than-a-doorknob rednecks. This guy would have felt right at home in the Third Reich.

The cruelty that must permeate his sheriff's office, all the way from the top, is astounding! It would be funny -- as you said, Barney Fife-ish -- were it not for the fact that his raid on the neighborhood in question was scary as hell. It can be frightening living in New York City, and sometimes I think I would like to move to a more peaceful place like I thought Phoenix must be, and then I read something like this.

What I'm getting at is, say I'm living in Phoenix and I fail to show up for a minor traffic hearing. Suddenly there's a tank pointed at my quiet suburban house, which is soon burned down by tear-gas canisters lobbed through my windows, and my little puppy is killed in the process. Then, when I protest and my wife cries about the loss of our beloved pet, Hitlerian storm troopers laugh at me and tell her to "shut the fuck up!"

What a place Phoenix, Arizona, must be! If voters don't get rid of this stupid sociopath, then certainly there is no hope for your community.

Joe's bad, he's nationwide: Just wanted to let you know that your story on the SWAT team laughing while a puppy burns to death is making the rounds nationally. Here in Boston, we are disgusted by this approach to law enforcement. Please don't let the story die.

Staying far away: Thank you for your article. I do not live in Maricopa County, and I assure you that I will never move there from Ohio, where I live now, as long as Joe Arpaio is sheriff. It's beginning to look a lot like Hitler reincarnated down in Arizona. It's amazing that such abuse of power can continue to exist in this country.

A public flogging: Your story "Dog Day Afternoon" is all over animal-rights Web sites. I wouldn't be surprised if 10,000 people from all over the country don't converge on the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office's steps to drag Joe Arpaio out for a public flogging. People here in St. Louis sure think that's certainly what he deserves.

In the Ghetto: This was a rerun of the Warsaw Ghetto destruction, only in smaller scale and here in Maricopa County!

No way to treat a dog: First, I'd like to thank you for writing "Dog Day Afternoon" and letting the public see what kind of trash they keep electing to run the MCSO. How can Joe Arpaio and his pathetic posse be allowed to walk our streets after what they did to that Ahwatukee family and their poor dog?

That dog was more human than Joe Scum and his puss-boy posse. Anyone who could terrorize innocent people, destroy their home and force a frightened puppy back into a burning building to die a horrible death -- and then laugh about the cries of that poor helpless dog as he was burning alive -- should be locked up for a long time.

Instead, these jerk-offs are running our sheriff's office. They had no reason to even be at that home. The guy they were after was already in custody. They just decided that since they were there, and someone in the house had a friggin' traffic violation, violence and destruction were warranted.

Where's our rights?! People and animals can't be treated this way. Joe and his puss-boys belong in jail, not running it. Arpaio has pulled a lot of wool over a lot of eyes. There's so much corruption at the hands of Arpaio that is swept under the rug.

Come on, people, do you really want Joe and his puss-boys running the MCSO anymore? The Hells Angels could do a better job. Hey, it could be your house next. If you've got any outstanding traffic issues, look out!

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