Feathered Bastard

Did "Roatan Bruce" receive special consideration from the MCSO?

Bruce Starr at the Super Bowl. The image is from the Honduras radio personality's February report on his trip in Honduras This Week Online.

Let's return to Honduras for a moment and check in with Sheriff's office pal "Roatan Bruce" Starr, a radio-personality in the Bay Islands, Honduras who also pens articles for the English-language pub Honduras This Week Online. You may recall that it was Starr's show Chief Deputy David Hendershott visited, along with other MCSO hotshots, back in 2007 to promote the MCSO's activity in Honduras, which included training Honduran police officers on the county dime, and paying for the trips from the MCSO's RICO budget.

Despite Sheriff Arpaio's promises to suspend the program, the Honduran Operation is believed to be ongoing, part of an effort by the MCSO and Hendershott to set up a Honduran base for a massive facial recognition project, on which the MCSO has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars. It's also been revealed by Channel 12's Joe Dana that Hendershott pitched just such a facial recognition project to a rep of the European Union. Dana has alleged a friendship between Hendershott and a CEO of the county vendor providing the facial recognition technology. And Dana's reported that Hendershott's traveled to China, staying in the same hotel as this vendor.

The guy whose kiss-ass reports inadvertently brought the Honduran scandal to light was Honduran radio personality "Roatan Bruce" Starr. Starr's radio shows and his column's for the English-language pub Honduras This Week Online, are pure boosterism. And he apparently took it personally when the Phoenix media began using his "Aw, shucks" articles and interviews with David Hendershott and other MCSO brass to expose the MCSO's efforts in Starr's adopted land.

Take this gripe from Starr describing his interview of National Police Officer on the Bay Islands, Commissario Julio Benitez, which Starr did March 17, 2008.

"We also talked about the problems a few one sided and self-serving reporters from the Phoenix area have caused for our Sisterhood Law Enforcement Project started by the Maricopa County Sherrif's [sic] Department," wrote Starr. "Please listen to this interview to see how damaging a few people can be to ruin it for the safety, security and protection for us in The Bay Islands and all of Honduras. Maybe we should all contact the publisher of the Arizona Republic newspapers to voice our opinions about the awful job of reporting a competing underground newspaper is doing to hurt us here."

(NB: The Bay Islands are islands off the coast of Honduras.)

Listening to Starr bitch about us in this interview, you'd think the taxpayers of Maricopa County owe Honduras the money it cost to send MCSO personnel down there and train their bannana republic keystone kops.

Even more absurd is a February report from Starr in Honduras This Week Online, which someone recently e-mailed me. In it, Starr suggests that he might have gotten help from the MCSO on a Super Bowl excursion up here to the PHX. Though how much they ultimately helped him is in doubt. Check it: "But just how did this Honduran radio host and writer for `Honduras This Week' end up in Phoenix attending the game? It all started when members of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (in Arizona, U.S.A.), one of the largest county sheriff offices in the U.S., came here to help improve and train police on both the mainland and on the Bay Islands. I invited them on my radio show twice to talk about all the good and selfless work they were doing to help the security and safety on our island as part of their international Partnership in Service and Justice Program.

"After the shows, they reminded me that the Super Bowl was going to be in their county in 2008 and they were one of the key organizers for the event. They invited me to visit them in Phoenix and said they would help me arrange press credentials to cover the game. That was less than a year ago - it never left my mind that I might be able to attend my first Super Bowl."

Later Starr explains that he called his "contact in Phoenix," who ultimately could not get him all the necessary security clearances. Fortunately, "a friend" helped him get a last minute ticket. It definitely sounds like Starr had a swell time:

"With our VIP pass, we were escorted through a private entrance to a great restaurant and ate, compliments of the house - some of the largest, best-tasting shrimp I ever had (must have come from Honduran waters) along with sliced tenderloin and lots of other food I had not tasted in a long, long time."

It's not totally clear from the report whether Starr's friend was connected to the MCSO. It may not matter. Starr probably would've blown the MCSO in print and on air with or without their help getting into the Super Bowl. For the record, I've called Starr in the past to try interviewing him about the Honduran scandal, but he's refused my calls.

Note to D.J. Racist Ryke: According to Starr's article, he paid for his own plane ticket. I think this stuff just shows how easy it is for the MCSO to have influence in some place like Honduras.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons