Arpaio's Deputy Chief Snipes at Media; Tribune Columnist Omits Personal Links in Article

Paul Chagolla can't stop being a spokesman for the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.

Though Chagolla left Sheriff Joe Arpaio's flighty "communications" department in December, having been promoted the department's first Hispanic deputy chief, he's been filling the pages of local newspapers in guest columns. His latest diatribe in the East ValleyTribune employs one of his favorite techniques: The allegation of a conspiracy.

Why does the Tribune allow (columnist Bill Richardson) to repeatedly bash the Maricopa County sheriff and his office? Are the Tribune and the Goldwater Institute's Clint Bolick working together to denigrate our law enforcement agency?

To be fair, there was a problem with the May 27 Richardson column Chagolla is worked up over. As Le Templar pointed out in another June 2 column, Richardson failed to disclose he worked on the Goldwater report from which he had quoted.

However, as Templar notes, Richardson's "omissions" don't dilute the former police officer's main points, which are that Arpaio's immigration-centric law enforcement priorities are misguided and inefficient.

Chagolla's guest column also does nothing to dent Richardson's points. Chagolla uses a classic ad hominem attack in trying to shame the Tribune for daring to publish Richardson (and, by extension, trying to intimidate the paper into changing its ways for fear of losing subscribers):

You give Richardson a platform to repeatedly attack the dedicated men and women of this office, along with Sheriff Joe Arpaio, when Richardson has little police management experience. This is concerning and unfair to our agency. Any person digesting his bile-tainted "whine" can be misled by his lack of knowledge in crime clearance procedures. There are no "FBI crime-reporting procedures" imposed upon local law enforcement agencies.

First of all, this is more of a dodge than an argument. The crime-reporting procedures may not be "imposed." But even if they are merely suggested, it's obvious Chagolla is not arguing his agency complies with those procedures. This is just his way of "proving" Richardson is wrong -- he's not making anything clearer for readers.

But is Richardson wrong? Not according to the Goldwater Institute report:

Arizona law directs the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) to "collect information concerning the number and nature of offenses committed in this state and of legal steps taken in connection with these offenses," in addition to other data.6 Arizona Revised Statutes § 41-1750(D) requires "chief executive officers of law enforcement agencies of this state or its subdivisions [to] provide to the department, such information as necessary to operate the statewide uniform crime reporting program and to cooperate with the federal government uniform crime reporting program." The Federal Bureau of Investigation in turn requires statistics on the number of crimes cleared,7 and directs that the state program "must conform to the national UCR Program standards, definitions, and information."

Here's our favorite line from Chagolla's June 2 column:

Only restraint keeps me from calling his diatribe disingenuous.

Um, but you... Never mind.

Chagolla goes on to call the libertarian Goldwater Institute "left-leaning." (In an April guest column in the Arizona Republic, he called the Institute's litigation director an advocate for illegal immigrants).

If you can make sense of this next paragraph, let us know:

Speaking of numbers, Arpaio's deputies have arrested thousands of felony suspects under Arizona's illegal immigration laws. We don't report the number of "routine" arrests involving illegal immigrants because we want the citizens to know that enforcing these laws is a priority.

It sounds like Chagolla is claiming deputies arrest far more illegal immigrants than the agency has claimed previously. But that can't be right, can it?

We'd appreciate a down-and-dirty debate between the Sheriff's Office and its critics, but Chagolla doesn't provide much beef in his column. Chagolla says it's an "apples and oranges" comparison when Richardson states that Phoenix and Mesa have arrested more illegal immigrants than Arpaio, but he doesn't elaborate.

This next part is just Loony Toons:

When we arrest illegal immigrants, they go directly to jail.

Nearly all other agencies only allow their officers to detain illegal immigrants and turn them over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for deportation -- only to have these individuals quickly find their way back over the U.S.-Mexico border and back onto our streets.

The reason the MCSO takes the people it arrests to jail is because that's the agency's primary holding facility. But there is little doubt that most of the illegal immigrants arrested by deputies -- just like those arrested by police -- are turned over to ICE for voluntary departure (a type of deportation) very quickly.

Chagolla's argument here would be bolstered with stats on the average number of days an illegal immigrant arrested by a deputy stays in jail before being turned over to ICE -- numbers only his jail can provide. You won't see those numbers because they don't support his argument.

Chagolla had another article in the Republic on May 10 in which he claims he wasn't asking for the newspaper's support on a frivolous public records request made to the county Superior Court and Board of Supervisors. A few sentences later, he says he was asking for support:

I challenged the newspaper to forgo its double-standard and speak against the court and the board's disregard for the law.

Chagolla's stab at public double-speak can have only one explanation:

He plans on running for sheriff.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.