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.
WE'RE MAD AS HELL . . .
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!
Sheriff Doh!: I congratulate New Times on its efforts to make public the often illegal antics of Sheriff Doh!
It's amazing that Joe remains in office and has public support when he has used intimidation tactics on political foes such as Dan Saban and Joe Arizona, has used an armored vehicle to make a misdemeanor arrest in Ahwatukee and has aimed Internet-linked cameras in a booking facility on a women's bathroom. This is not even to mention his various human rights violations.
Why is he still around? Because, since he took office nearly 12 years ago, he's been covering his ass while the local mainstream media wipe it clean. The stories I've read in New Times rarely appear in the other media and, when they do, they are watered down.
The other problem is that a lot of poor, foolish saps think alternative media means not credible, even un-American. I wish I was a billionaire because I'd buy Gannett (which owns the Arizona Republic) and hire the New Times staff as editors. Then there would be a heightened sense of credibility, and thugs like Arpaio would never get a chance to be reelected, because they'd be in jail where they belong.
A fate worse than death: I just read your article about the dog on fire, and I thank you for having the balls to report this story. After reading this, I felt furious, like I was somehow on fire.
I am completely disgusted with the entire sheriff's office. The fact that there are people in the world who would spray a dog in the face with an extinguisher and send him back into a fire to die makes me want to take ridiculously drastic actions.
I feel that John Dougherty is the only person in the Valley doing anything to get Sheriff Joke out of office, and I want to do what I can to help the cause. The kind of Nazi behavior you wrote about is just what the Constitution was written to keep from happening. And yet here it is.
My sympathy goes out to Trish Golden and Eric Kush for having to live with the torturous death of their beloved pet. This incident is the fault of the MCSO, and especially its SWAT team members, but it is the citizens of Maricopa County's fault, too, for not getting rid of this pathetic waste of flesh, Arpaio, sooner.
I was so infuriated by this story that I have made plans to go knock down every "Reelect Sheriff Joe" sign that I see. I can't stand by anymore and let that cretin take freedom from us. I can't stand idly by while an innocent puppy suffers a fate worse than death at the hands of those sworn to "serve and protect."
Dangerous Joe: I've just read your "Dog Day Afternoon" article, and just had to let you know that you've inspired my husband and myself to register to vote -- for the first time ever, I might add -- so that we can add our two votes to those opposed to Dangerous Joe!
I grew up here, went to Sunnyslope Elementary back in the late '60s and early '70s, but have just recently moved back home after a 15-year absence. I've always agreed with George Carlin's views on politics, never believing that my measly little vote could make a difference.
However, in the past two years, we've seen the damage inflicted by that power-hungry maniac Arpaio and can no longer stand by and do nothing. I'm certain I'm misquoting here, but this does come to mind: "Evil flourishes when good men do nothing." Well, it's time to do something! I hope to God it helps get that monster out of office. Thanks for the inspiration!
Abuse of power: This story is an absolutely heinous account of the abuses of power here in our community. I felt as if I were going to vomit when I read the horrors of what these people in Ahwatukee went through. My heart goes out to them.
After reading about Arpaio's goon squad, I feel so much rage and sadness that supposed professionals would behave in such a horrible manner. Not only do they burn these people's house down, the inhumane, horrible treatment of their dog is unbelievable. These goons laughing at the owners of the dog for being upset about losing him in the fire, and their pushing the little puppy back into the flames, makes my blood boil.
Your article was very informative and well-written. I knew nothing of this incident. I never even saw it in the Republic. It's just like the coward that Arpaio is not to grant you an interview. I will not vote for him.
Vote him out, part 1: Your article helped me make a decision that I will not be voting for Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Enough is enough! Shame on our county for allowing this to happen. Have Sheriff Joe and his goons had a mental evaluation lately? I believe it is long overdue. Shame on the Arizona Republic for hiding this story. More people should speak out about the behavior of this nut and his band of nuts.
Vote him out, part 2: I have been informing my friends and family about"Dog Day Afternoon" and about Arpaio's record to persuade them to vote against Joe Arpaio in the upcoming election. They all seem to agree that he's gotten out of hand.
Send out the clown: These guys need to go down! The sad thing is, few with any power want to stand up to this clown, because once you mess with Joe, you just may end up like the dog Dre. Let's vote this clown and his depravity out of office. Maybe what goes around will come around! It's time.
Ambassadors of evil: The "Dog Day Afternoon" article was gut-wrenching. I cannot comment on the sheriff's treatment of humans. However, I have volunteered with various local animal agencies, and I admire the sheriff's office for developing an animal anti-cruelty task force.
I can only hope that if Sheriff Joe has once ounce of integrity, he will prosecute to the fullest extent the persons wearing SWAT uniforms who are responsible. These room-temperature IQs are truly ambassadors of evil.
Spraying a puppy in the face with a fire extinguisher to keep him from escaping from his burning home, then laughing at the cries the puppy made as it burned to death -- while the owners of this little dog were made to watch -- is appalling. I feel like vomiting.
God and Joe: What Joe Arpaio's done behind the public's back over the last few years has been absolutely disgusting, and it is time for him to be stopped!
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After reading the numerous stories uncovered by New Times about his inmate neglect and about how his sadistic SWAT teams are allowed to do pretty much anything they want without any kind of reprimand or prosecution, I am absolutely appalled.
Not only about these things, but that Arpaio thinks he is above the law.
I don't care who runs against Arpaio, I will vote for him. It has been made abundantly clear that Joe doesn't give a shit about animal cruelty or inmate safety, or even about the people who elect him. He just cares about how much he can get away with before Rick Romley actually prosecutes him.
He and his unprofessional and useless SWAT teams and deputies need to be gone. Permanently! New ones need to be brought in and trained correctly -- along with a new sheriff who doesn't think he's God.