PHOENIX — It was a busy day for longtime Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio, but it wasn’t what he was used to.
Arpaio was on the other side of the justice system.
Current Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone joined KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Mac & Gaydos in studio Monday evening just hours after Arpaio was found guilty of criminal contempt of court.
Penzone said he expected the guilty verdict, and he probably wouldn’t be in this position today if it wasn’t for Arpaio’s actions.
“It was the motivation for why I chose to run for this office, and I know you spoke on some specifics that occurred, but at the end of the day, we all have a responsibility to respect the law and when you are empowered to enforce the law, you have to have a greater understanding and respect for that because we serve the community,” Penzone said.
“So when you see that authority being abused or misrepresented in any way, it reflects on everybody. It makes the deputies on the street — their job considerably harder because we have to have a healthy relationship with everyone in our community. But this does give the indication that we are all held accountable regardless of who you are, where you came from, what your background may be or your career history, if you are going to cross the line the justice system should and more often than not will hold you accountable.”
U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton said Arpaio was guilty of misdemeanor contempt after prolonging his controversial immigration sweeps for 17 months after being directed to stop them by a different judge.
Arpaio’s targeting of immigrants angered many in the community, and created some distrust when it came to law enforcement.
“I want to see respect and a healthy relationship in both directions, and my reasoning again that I ran for this office was because that was undermined. It was disrespected and anyone who believes they’re above the law, that they don’t answer to everyone who actually empowered them, in my opinion is no longer deserving of that authority or that privilege,” Penzone said.
Arpaio was scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 5 and he could face up to six months in jail.
Penzone didn’t want to comment on what he thinks the punishment for the former sheriff should be, but did say he knew there would be “a day of reckoning.”
“If you look at the behaviors, look at what occurred — what occurred was unacceptable,” Penzone said. “The court system stepped in, and if you put anyone else’s name in there and said these are the behaviors, this is the outcome we should expect.”
Arpaio will appeal the ruling.