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Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is shown during the announcement of the endorsements. (Bob McClay/KTAR)

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio announced Tuesday that he has been endorsed by the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association and the Arizona Police Association.

PLEA's Joe Clure said Arpaio has more experience than his main opponent, 20-year Phoenix police veteran Sgt. Paul Penzone.

"If you put those two candidates side-by-side, clearly the sheriff is the better candidate, both in experience and expertise in the matter of managing a large law enforcement agency" he said. "He has been fantastic to PLEA and to Phoenix police officers. Everything we've ever asked of him, he's provided."

Arpaio received the endorsements despite allegations that the office has mishandled hundreds of sex cases in El Mirage. Justin Harris of the Arizona Police Association blamed the economy for the sheriff's department issues.

"In the economy that we're faced with, law enforcement doesn't have all of the resources and funding that we require to do every bit of our job as good as we can," he said. "We take the resources that we have, with the funding that's available, and we do the absolute best job that we can."

Arpaio has refused to debate Penzone or independent candidate Mike Stauffer about why he is the best for the job.

"I've been around for 20 years, and I think people know who the sheriff is," said Arpaio.

When pressed for another answer, Arpaio said, "I'm giving the answer. I don't have to debate the two people running against me. Maybe they can debate themselves and let the public know who they are."

Arpaio called today's endorsements "an honor and a privilege."

Bob McClay, Reporter

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