Outstanding Maricopa County Warrants Finally Back to Pre-Arpaio Numbers; Deputy Chief Paul Chagolla Debates AZCentral Readers

An interesting story by JJ Hensley in the Arizona Republic yesterday mentions how the number of outstanding warrants in Maricopa County has dropped by 20 percent since 2008.

For years, critics have been juxtaposing the number of warrants with Sheriff Joe Arpaio's priorities, questioning why his deputies seem to have so much time for rounding up illegal immigrants but not so much for finding fugitives.

For the past few months, the failure by Arpaio's office to investigate sex crimes has replaced warrants as a symbol of the sheriff's penchant to put politics ahead of police work. And warrants aren't as juicy of an issue, because with all the attention on the warrant problem, authorities have put a dent in the numbers. Hensley tells us that outstanding warrants have fallen from more than 40,000 in 2008 to about 31,000 today.

The funny thing, though, is a stat Hensley chucks out at the end his article -- and which was noticed immediately by the first commenter on the story.

"(Deputy Chief Paul Chagolla) noted that the number of outstanding warrants is at its lowest since 1993," the article reads.

Sheriff Arpaio was elected in 1992 and took office in 1993.

Taking the critics' point of view, (okay, we know you're not shocked), it appears that the fugitive problem is finally starting to recover from the negative effects of Arpaio's tenure.

More funny stuff can be found in the comment section of yesterday's article, as Chagolla takes on AzCentral readers who seem to find it hard to believe that Arpaio's office can do anything right.

Chagolla chides Hensley for allegedly failing to include his full complement of spin. Yet Chagolla's credibility is shot, in our humble opinion.

Arpaio's longtime spokeswoman, Lisa Allen, says Chagolla is a protege of disgraced, former Chief Deputy Dave Hendershott, a man known to skew statistics to manipulate the news media. Arpaio fired Hendershott when serious accusations against his trusted compadre were upheld; Arpaio claimed Hendershott had "duped" him.

Chagolla, along with Hendershott, was accused by another Republic writer of threatening her and her baby. Arpaio, in covering for one of the few commanders he still trusts, decided not to open an investigation into the alleged threats, which Chagolla denies making.

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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.
Contact: Ray Stern