Here's one for the irony-bin, none other than Sheriff Joe Arpaio's stone-faced ex-Deputy Chief Brian Sands is acting as if he's acquired a sense of ethics since saying sayonara last year to a nearly 30 year career with the Sheriff's Office.
Nah, he's not objecting to the policy of prejudiced policing toward Latinos, which he helped form and implement during his time as an Arpaio henchman, a policy that the MCSO recently revealed will cost the county at least $21.9 million to correct per a federal judge's order.
Rather, Sands supposedly is rankled by ham-actor Steven Seagal's high-handedness and egocentric antics in dealing with actual sworn lawmen of the MCSO. This, while Seagal played at being a member of the sheriff's posse for Seagal's defunct series on A&E, Steven Seagal: Lawman.
In an interview with Channel 12's Joe Dana, Sands related an incident where Seagal supposedly berated a sheriff's deputy after a member of the bloated, decrepit action hero's entourage was stopped for speeding in Cave Creek.
MCSO flack Lisa Allen countered that she had spoken to Seagal who denied the allegations. So, of course, Seagal, the has-been movie star, is right, and the MCSO deputy is wrong.
Sands also told Dana that Seagal refused to get required posse training, even though he wanted to be the first through the door on certain occasions.
"The SWAT Team complained to me that he was trying to make entries as the lead officer going inside the door, which is something that is very high-risk," Sands told Dana.
Posse members are not certified byArizona's Peace Officer Standards and Training Board. Basically, they can act in support roles, though the MCSO has been known to skirt this line.
Not only is Seagal not POST-certified, he came to the MCSO with baggage, having resigned his reserve position with the Jefferson Parish (Louisiana) Sheriff's Office -- onetime host of his canceled A&E show -- rather than return to face internal affairs questioning over allegations involving a sexual harassment claim.
Seagal ended up in Sand Land, riding shotgun with Arpaio's forces, as they obliged Seagal's producers by laying siege to a farmhouse where hundreds of roosters were being raised, allegedly for cockfighting. Notable was the use of a tank to roll through a fence.
The footage has since been acquired by a cable channel called REELZ, which the MCSO has been helping to hype.
Why does the MCSO bend over backwards for Seagal?
A mutual interest in publicity surely is one factor.
Sands suggests another -- that MCSO Chief Deputy Jerry Sheridan's wife "brokered the purchase of a home for Seagal," according to Dana's piece.
Allen denied there was a conflict of interest, and stated that Seagal asked for the help of Sheridan's wife because Seagal trusted her.
Is anyone else getting a whiff of chief-envy, here? For years, Sands had been at Arpaio's side, justifying his boss' every move.
Then he resigns in August, unexpectedly. Could it have been that Sands was eased out, and this is Sands' payback?
Sands was responsible for one of the dumbest screw-ups in the history of the MCSO's upper echelons. And that's saying something.
See, when the MCSO needed a legal justification for its assertion that it had inherent authority to enforce civil immigration laws, Sands ordered his doofus underling Sergeant Brett Palmer, to find one.
The results were laughable, and damning, as I indicated in a post during the 2012 trial in the ACLU's civil rights case Melendres v. Arpaio:
Palmer is the same brain surgeon who participated in a press conference in 2009 where he and other Arpaio employees blasted public officials who had dared to criticize Arpaio's immigration policies.
"We're telling these people in power such as [then Phoenix Mayor] Phil Gordon, [Maricopa County Supervisor] Mary Rose Wilcox and [then Mesa] Police Chief Gascon, shut up!" Palmer practically spat at the time. "They're ignorant. They don't know what it is they're talking about. They don't have their facts straight."
In other words, Palmer isn't the sharpest pencil in the drawer. So what does it say about the guy who asks him to do legal research and passes this "research" along to his boss, the most powerful lawman in the county?
Palmer admitted that he "cut and pasted" info from a website to send to Sands, and the info was, unknown to him at the time, incorrect. The material cited was old, and said that state and local cops have the right to enforce federal immigration statutes without prior approval of the "INS."
That mention of the no-longer-extant INS should have been a tip off for Palmer and his superiors. But they were eager to make the case that local law enforcement has "inherent authority" to question folks about immigration status.
In fact, that is incorrect. As federal Judge G. Murray Snow pointed out in his decision granting Melendres class action status, and as the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has held, "Local law enforcement officers...do not have the `inherent authority' to investigate civil immigration violations."
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
The Sands-Palmer brain trust thereby offered evidence to the court that the MCSO was, indeed, breaking the law. In no small part because it's muck-a-mucks did not understand the law. Or didn't want to understand it.
In that sense, Sands' effect on the MCSO's reputation has been even more devastating than Seagal's. Seagal is a clown, a fictional cop, and has no real authority beyond the confines of your cable box.
But Sands had real authority and used it to the ill ends of his master. Which is worse?