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Joe Arpaio Attacks Democratic Opponent Paul Penzone Over Phoenix P.D.'s Bungled Sex-Crime Investigations

As Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio pointed out when a story about his office's bungling of hundreds of sex-crime investigations resurfaced late last year, other Valley law enforcement agencies had "way worse" problems when it comes to investigating sex crimes.

One of those agencies is the Phoenix Police Department -- and the sheriff's already using the P.P.D.'s problems to attack Paul Penzone, a former spokesman for the P.P.D. and Arpaio's Democratic opponent in this year's sheriff's race.

See our story on the Phoenix Police Department's sex-crime follies here.

Arpaio's chief political strategist, Chad Willems, has refused -- for the second time this month -- to give New Times a copy of a press release he issued to other Valley news outlets (imagine that).

However, KTAR got a copy.

From KTAR:

"The first Democrat to file and announce his campaign for Maricopa County Sheriff, Paul Penzone, stumbled out of the gates this morning with an announcement that is riddled with errors about Sheriff Joe Arpaio's record of service," stated Arpaio campaign manager Chad Willems in a press release.

Penzone cited Arpaio's office mishandling hundreds of sexual abuse cases as long ago as 2007, for which Arpaio has drawn the ire of numerous critics.

Willems contested that Penzone's own Phoenix police have thousands of sexual abuse cases of their own that were mishandled.

What Willems fails to mention is that when the Phoenix Police Department was bungling sex-crime investigations, Penzone wasn't in charge of the Department, he was a spokesman for the Department -- and had little to do with investigating sex crimes.

In the MCSO's case, Arpaio was running the show.

Another little tidbit Willems leaves out of his comparison of the botched investigations is how each agency handled the fallout.

Arpaio downplayed the whole thing, noting that "if" there were any victims, he was sorry.

As we mentioned in a previous post, it's not an "if" -- there are victims...hundreds of them.

As for the Phoenix Police Department's response to its botched investigations, there were no excuses -- or half-assed apologies.

"Child sex-crime cases are tough to investigate -- they're very difficult, but I think we dropped the ball," Phoenix Sergeant Trent Crump told New Times in December. "Going forward, how do we fix it? How do we right the ship at this point? And that's what we're gonna focus on. We're not gonna blame other agencies -- we need to fix our own problem."

Since the P.P.D. realized there was a problem, the department has had three separate task forces look at the cases to figure out how to move forward. Many of the cases are still being reviewed. Additionally, a "quality assurance" task force was formed last month to make sure that all child sex-crime investigations going forward meet the department's new criteria for how to properly investigate these types of crimes.

Arpaio, on the other hand, vowed to "order a national search to get the best person in this country to come here and we're gonna get advice, consultation."

We're yet to hear whether the sheriff actually followed through with his pledge -- and we have a feeling that's the kind of thing a headline-hound like Arpaio would issue a press release about.

After all, he did issue a press release about not wanting to give "Occupy Phoenix" protesters additional publicity. We'll repeat: Arpaio issued a press release to announce he wasn't giving "Occupy Phoenix" protesters additional publicity.  


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