Lisa Allen, Sheriff Joe Arpaio's Longtime Spokeswoman, Forgets Herself in AZ Republic Letter to Editor
Lisa Allen wonders in a Saturday letter to the editor why people criticize Sheriff Arpaio's crime sweeps, but not those of Phoenix police. She answered her own question in 2009.
Image: Ray Stern
Lisa Allen certainly knows the answer to the question she posed in a letter to the editor published in Saturday's Arizona Republic.
In the letter, the longtime spokeswoman for Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio congratulates the Phoenix Police Department for a "job well done" in a recent crime sweep that netted 180 arrests, then notes that the "Arizona Republic and others were quick to criticize" the sheriff's past crime sweeps, "saying the sheriff only does these operations to arrest illegal aliens."
She claims that the Arpaio and PPD sweeps were "no different in application and goal..." then ponders, "So, why does one agency get credit and the other condemnation?"
Yet as a secret recording makes clear, Allen believed in July of 2009 that a crime sweep Arpaio had ordered for the Chandler area at the time would invite criticism, due to rising public discourse and concern about racial profiling.
The U.S. Department of Justice launched a lawsuit in December 2011 against the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, accusing Arpaio of overseeing systemic discrimination against Hispanics.
Allen made the statements in 2009 to a trusted deputy chief, Frank Munnell, who was recording her surreptitiously.
In the recording, Allen tells Munnell she's tired of the SB1070 issue and how "this racial profiling thing is really ratcheting up" because of some comment made by recalled State Senator Russell Pearce.
Allen notes that there's "all kinds of talk about racial profiling and how it's got to stop ... and we're just walking right into it."
She wonders aloud, "You know what bothers me is, why are we doing this? Why are we going there? Is there a law enforcement reason?"
"Course not," Munnell tells her. He explains that the crime sweep is done for media attention and to "reinforce the sheriff's stance that he'll do what the fuck he wants."
"Oh," Allen says.
"Know what I mean?"
Today we asked Allen if her 2009 statements did not, as they appear to, answer the question she poses in her Saturday letter to the editor.
Allen wrote back that DOJ still has not proved anything in its racial-profiling suit, which is still wending its way through the courts.
She goes on to say, "My saying 'yeah' to Munnell's idea that the sheriff does these things to prove he can do what he wants isn't my agreeing with him. Passive compliance was a way to shut down the conversation giving we were starting a meeting."
Perhaps. But Allen had also asked a couple of questions, albeit sort of rhetorically, to Munnell. And she said something bothers her.
So we're thinking Allen either forgets her own words to Munnell... or maybe the Saturday letter to the editor was penned at the request of, and with heavy input by, her boss.
Either way, Allen's letter fell sort of flat with us. And for many more reasons than the ones we've just covered.
Without going into the volumes of evidence in the two major racial-profiling lawsuits now active against Arpaio and the Sheriff's Office, we offer one piece of evidence that the "application and goal" of Arpaio's sweeps were wildly different than the recent sweep by Phoenix police.
Deputy Chief Brian Sands, still one of Arpaio's top men, recalled that during one late-2008 crime sweep in the northwest Valley, Arpaio's former chief deputy instructed a lieutenant to "round up as many illegal aliens as he could arrest."
Sands, whose memory about the event was duly recorded in an internal investigation of alleged crimes and policy violations within Arpaio's office, stated that the lieutenant later called him, saying he had 50 people in custody accused of nothing but being illegal immigrants.
That sure sounds different.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Phoenix New Times' biggest stories.