Rick Romley Checks Sheriff Joe's Power, the MCSO's Paul Chagolla Gets His Back Up, and U.S. Marshal David Gonzales Scores

GOOD COPS, BAD COPS

U.S. Marshal David Gonzales is a classy, tough lawman, the kind of fellow who can cite 16th-century English philosopher Francis Bacon while announcing the collaring of 239 fugitives, as he did during a recent press conference at the Sandra Day O'Connor federal courthouse downtown.

"If we do not maintain justice, justice will not maintain us," quoted Gonzales, laying some, er, Bacon on the reporters present in his office.

Gonzales, who was appointed to his post by George W. Bush and retained by the Obama administration, said that 100 officers from 30 different agencies helped in what he dubbed "Operation Justice II."

Normally, a multi-agency fugitive task force headed by the Marshals Service nets about 20 to 25 fugitives a week. So why don't the marshals do similar roundups more often?

"We wish we could do this every week," he said. "But the bottom line is not the federal government, not the state government, or the local governments have the resources to do these types of projects every week."

The operation, which netted sex offenders, burglary and robbery suspects, and those with assault warrants, is just the sort of thing you want law enforcement engaged in: Quietly, proactively taking lawbreakers off the streets.

The effort stands in stark contrast to the showy bluster of Sheriff Joe Arpaio's regular anti-immigrant dragnets, especially since, as Gonzales noted, Maricopa County has about 40,000 warrants outstanding.

It has traditionally been the sheriff's job to serve those warrants, but the MCSO has long since abandoned its duties in this area, having axed its warrants division.

The marshal's operation also out-performed a Hollywood-style set of raids last week in Arizona by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. ICE honcho John Morton flew in from D.C. to be present at a Phoenix press conference planned long in advance, where he announced that around 800 agents had nabbed 47 criminal suspects in a human-trafficking ring operating through five different shuttle companies in Tucson and Phoenix.

Do the math. For every one supposed bad guy, it took about 17 officers in ICE's operation to do the trick. Whereas, every one officer in the marshal's operation scored at least two fugitives, on average.

Add to this that ICE tipped off at least a half-dozen national news outlets several days in advance of the raids so they could be present for Morton's media stunt. When I asked Morton at that press conference why he had done this, possibly risking the lives of his men and the public, he declined to comment on ICE's "media relations" and insisted that the results of the ICE bust "speak for themselves."

They sure do, especially in hindsight, compared to the marshal's operation.

Morton not only risked public safety in his bid for press, he scared the bejesus out of the Latino community, which had learned of the takedown 24 hours in advance. Coming on the heels of passage in the state House of Russell Pearce's police state/Hispanic-hunting bill SB1070, the federal government's action reinforced to Hispanics that while they live in Arizona, they live in a state of fear — whether from the feds or from local cops.

Both Morton and U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke hotly denied at the press event that the ICE raids had anything to do with SB1070. But they're not operating in a vacuum. Arizona is now a tinderbox on the edge of civil discord. Morton's pricey grandstanding — considering the unnamed cost of 800 agents working on this — did not help matters.

Alfredo Gutierrez, the wise not-so-old man of Latino activism in this state and a former Arizona Senate majority leader, criticized the ICE action as a "Potemkin village," one he believes was meant to bolster SB1070.

See, the Washington Post reported that ICE has a quota: 400,000 total deportations this year, criminal and non-criminal aliens alike. This despite the constant assurances by Morton and his boss, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, that they've prioritized going after the worst of the worst.

"The Obama administration," Gutierrez asserted to me, "from the very beginning has concluded that in order to be able to talk about immigration reform, [it] has to be able to show [its] enforcement credibility. That's why Napolitano's there."

Indeed, Napolitano was chosen to head the DHS because, as one of the Dems' few border hawks, she could deflect attacks from the right on immigration reform, of which the administration's also let her take charge.

I don't totally buy Gutierrez's assessment, as ICE's operation did take out some criminal suspects. But I agree that ICE engaged in overkill and in overt media manipulation.

Then again, what do you expect from bureaucrats and politicians?

CHAGOLLA'S BACK

There were a couple of weird things about that press conference that Gonzales had nothing to do with.

The first was Governor Jan Brewer's non-sequitur address on food-stamp fraud, which she was incapable of tying to Gonzales' operation.

Supposedly, some of those picked up in the marshal's effort were felons weeded out from the state's welfare rolls, but no one at the media event could say how many.

But that was a point someone else had to make for Brewer, who read dutifully from a script, prepared by her staff, that had to do with people misusing Arizona's food-assistance program.

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4 comments
Steve Tracy
Steve Tracy

Rick Romley and all of you need to bear in mind that the freak of nature that passes for our county constable is simply a spokesman for the pervasive attitude of Hatred that makes up the construct of this State's pitiable legislature. Arpaio is no more the exclusive architect of regional ethnic intolerance than Adolph Hitler can be blamed solely for the destruction of Europe and the deaths of nearly 45,000,000 human beings. Consummate hate is the by-product of lives lived in the darkest regions of loss, sadness, self doubt, want, and confusion. It can be found easily in places like Sunnyslope, where the Aryans, the Angels and the like minded knuckledraggers vomit up their sad prejudices to those too inexperienced to challenge their stupity...

Shirley
Shirley

I am a Mexican American, I support SB 1070.I do not live in fear of the police. Rose Wilcoxand the other "Hispanics" do not speak for me.

goodstein
goodstein

I hope Romley puts r pie hole on administrative leave like lisa achabon. both deserve it. (should be UN paid)

Roger Morris
Roger Morris

Heardee! Heardee! Heardee! Post Bush/Cheney "Suspension of Disbelif." By striking, United States Attorney General, while in the consultation of the Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization by inserting, "The Description." It's Profiling! It's "Breathtaking Abuse of the Constitution." Crime Suppression Sweeps! No Advertised "Crime Suppression Sweeps." What's the AZPOST "Description" of a man, woman or child. But by continuing to strike the United States Attorney General, while in the consultation of the Secretary of Agriculture, while in consultation with the Secretary of Interior, while in consultation with every Native American Reservation, while in the the consultation with the Secretary of the Interior, while in consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security, by inserting SB 1070! 38,000 detained, rendered, forced to ATTEST unto .............Of course it was always about civil rights! Of course it's still about that "Economic Opportunity at the Border." We need "Z" People! Attested Felons unto me! Stop! Stop! You're all just illegal! Sure you are african american born before 1964! Prove it! No REAL ID! No proof for you! You come with me! Sure are a mexican american born man, woman, child. Get out of here! Sure you are! 38,000 and just a few! 38,000 and just a few! Birth Certificate for you! Ahhhh! Get out of here! You come with me! Because by striking, U.S. Attorney General....It's YOU LIE! YOU LIE! Hey that bill didn't pass! SB 1639 Border Security Economic Opportunity Immigration Act of George Bush/Dick Cheney "forced ATTESTAMENTS" unto them! Go "Z" people!

 

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