Feathered Bastard

Sheriff Arpaio unleashes posse on illegals; Depends stock skyrockets.

Check the Penzoil in that 'do. Give it up, Joe. Gray's nothing to be ashamed of.

I'm a glutton for punishment. That's the only excuse I have for rolling down to 32nd and Thomas this Friday afternoon to check Sheriff Joe's press conference announcing his "crime suppression operation," supposedly focused on the area between 16th and 40th Streets, and between Indian School and McDowell Roads. "ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION ARRESTS ANTICIPATED," screamed the press release on the MCSO Web site. But what caught my attention was that Arpaio was rolling out "armed posse members" in addition to some actual deputies.

Posse members? You mean the pear-shaped alter kockers who roam the malls at Christmas time? Sound the alarm, Bessie! Empty the Luby's up in Sun City. And make sure everyone has on a fresh pair of undergarments. Joe's rollin' out the old farts to hunt down some Messcans! Wahoooooo!

Seriously, is there any semi-public entity in this County as pathetic, decrepit and discredited as the Sheriff's posse? Remember when they participated in Joe's 2003 prostitution busts, and so many of them got nekkid with the 'hos and/or copped free handjobs that then County Attorney Rick Romley refused to prosecute the collars? (Read John Dougherty's June 24, 2004 story, "In the Crosshairs," for more on that fiasco.) These old cats should be playing shuffleboard somewhere and trying to remember the last decade they got laid in. Not running around with guns pretending to be cops for the day.

"We are utilizing our volunteer posse," announced Joe to a gaggle of reporters in the otherwise vacant parking lot where he'd set up his mobile command center. "We've done this many times before. We've gone after prostitutes and other criminal activity utilizing the posse."

Uh, yeah, Joe, and that prostitute thing was really a smashing success. Fortunately, no one's pacemaker gave out while they wuz gettin' their wrinkled weenie stroked.

Allegedly some local chiropractic chick along with the wing-nuts at the DC group Judicial Watch asked Joe to step in and crack down, and there were both pro and anti-immigration folks present, including Salvador Reza, on the pro side, and wacky border extremist Stacey O'Connell on the anti tip. Joe had these big wagons set up -- putatively to process all the arrests they were gonna make.

The Hispanic community's concerned this was a huge dragnet meant to intimidate the undocumented. And they're probably right. But a dragnet by posse members? They're supposed to be present in a support role, though many of these Grandpa Munsters are armed, wear deputy-like uniforms and ride around in MCSO vehicles. I've been told they can't even legally make a traffic stop. Though Joe assured us all there were gonna be some actual MCSO around to do the "real" police work. Plus Joe promised it was all free, like your grandmama.

Ahem, and we all know Joe never lies when it comes to law enforcement.

After I left, I cruised down Thomas several times. There were a number of PHX cop cars around. They've already got the scene covered. I didn't see any MCSO brownshirts anywhere. So why did Joe need to do this when the area's already crawling with PHX PD? Simple. He hadn't had his pic in the paper for like two whole days!

During the press conference, Joe ignored me for the most part, once saying he doesn't answer questions from New Times. But he did seem to wince a couple of times when I asked if he had to use posse members because all of his deputies were down in Honduras advising the po-po there. You know, like the Panama-hatted, Bermuda-shorted Chief Deputy David Hendershott.

I also asked,

"What special training do the posse members have to enforce immigration law? And do you have enough Depends to go around to all the posse members, Sheriff?"

There was a long pause after that one, though a couple of the other journos did smirk.

I then asked, "How old is the average posse member, Joe?" He ignored me, but he did say, when queried by another, regarding beleaguered Aguila that the residents there were "very happy" with the MCSO now, after being overrun by crime, in part to inattention from the MCSO.

Yeah, Aguila's very happy , Joe. Very happy this is going to be your last year in office, after Dan Saban whips your flaccid fanny in the general election.

I followed up by asking if most of the posse members were retirees. I was beside Joe throughout the press conference. He said, quizzically, "I hear someone whispering..."

I replied, "It's a little BIRD in your ear, Joe!"

To that, there were a few chuckles, even from ol' Joe.

"So would you say most posse members are around, 50, 60, 70?" I asked.

"I don't think 60 is old," he grumbled. "They keep saying I have wrinkles on my hands. My hands look pretty good."

Huh? I just let it go, and asked again why Chief Deputy David Hendershott was in Honduras and if the posse members were trained to enforce federal immigration statutes. He didn't reply.

Thus concluded another riveting episode of the Joe Show.

Saturday morning, less than 24 hours later, Joe and his mobile command center and his Metamucil-addled clan of mossbacks were gone. Vamoosed. The posse, it pooped. Where did they all go? I know. They had to go back to Leisure World to retrieve their walkers and canes. Just you watch, Messcans! They'll be back. Primed with PolyGrip and juiced with Geritol. Yep, they're geriatrics gone wildin'. Turn your back on them, and they'll put an orthopedic sneaker up your hindquarters. Then choke you with that old people smell. (Cough.) It's a killer...

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