Paul Chagolla, Sheriff Arpaio's Acerbic Spokesman, Transferred Out of Media Work

Well, we won't have Paul Chagolla to kick around any more.

The sometimes pleasant, often rude spokesman of six years for Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has been transferred to oversee the sheriff office's training division.

We knew something was up when we found out Chagolla had been promoted to deputy chief and hadn't been quoted by any news outlet since the November election.

Chagolla "did the best job he could do under the most difficult circumstances," says the sheriff's office's media relations director, Lisa Allen.

The thing is, it didn't have to be that difficult. What made it harder was Chagolla's role as Chief Roadblock for any media inquiry that questioned what the sheriff's office did. And Chagolla came on a couple of years before the 2004 election, when many in the news media began to help New Times carry the flag on critical stories about the office.

When the news media ramped up its criticism last year following Arpaio's sweeps for illegal immigrants, Chagolla's antics were noticed by even more reporters. In Allen's view, the press and the 16-year sheriff had grown very familiar, "and familiarity sometimes breeds contempt."

And Chagolla did not always react in an ideal manner toward reporters, Allen admits.

"I think there are a lot of people in the media that are glad to see him go," she says.

A new spokesman soon will be hired to replace Chagolla. The sheriff's office hopes the change-up will usher in a new, smoother relationship with many in the media, Allen says.

We hope so, too -- because a frictionless flow of accurate information from the sheriff's office will help the public understand more about the things going on at the agency.

That will mean a better sheriff's office. -- Ray Stern 

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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