Sheriff Paul Penzone voices concerns about Ducey’s school safety plan

Mar 19, 2018, 7:19 PM | Updated: Apr 17, 2018, 8:30 pm

(AP Photo/Matt York)...

(AP Photo/Matt York)

(AP Photo/Matt York)

LISTEN: Sheriff Paul Penzone

PHOENIX — Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone said Monday that he was supportive of Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey’s plan to address school safety, but was concerned about the speed at which it was being implemented and the available funding to take it off the ground.

“We’re reactive on impulse because of the most recent circumstance and as time progresses, we get further away from it,” Penzone told KTAR News’ Mac and Gaydos. 

“Instead of trying to solve this overnight, let’s say in the next year, in the next two years, in the next three years, in the next five years, what can we do to move the meter in the right direction? Because it didn’t happen yesterday, it’s been going on for years.

“I want to see an immediate solution, but the reality is that’s not going to happen so let’s get the correct solution by being pragmatic,” the sheriff added.

Ducey introduced the plan, titled “Safe Arizona Schools Plan,” on Monday in response to the Majory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, in which a 19-year-old former student killed 17 people — mostly students — and injured 14 more with an assault-style rifle.

The plan aimed to make schools and communities safer by increasing mental and behavioral health resources, restricting access to firearms and tightening background checks.

Penzone said he, along with a group of law enforcement officials from across the state, met with the Arizona governor for about an hour to have a conversation about how the issue of school safety could be addressed from their standpoint.

While the sheriff said he was supportive of Ducey’s plan, he also worried about how the state would be able to fund it.

“I just think that this problem, no different than we’ve talked about opioids, is so complex that it’s going to require an investment of time and an investment of resources and resources are the key,” Penzone said.

“It is a very complex issue with all different factors and to resolve it, or to solve it, is going to take a lot of time, effort and money.”

The sheriff said from his point of view, he needs to ensure that his officers are trained not only as a resource but know how to respond to best handle situations like active shooters.

“I do look from my position how can I as sheriff, as the Maricopa County sheriff, what can we do in those areas that we’re responsible for and what funding do we have and do we need?” he said.

But Penzone said there is one major roadblock that is currently standing in his way: The size of his department.

There are currently 3,500 employees working in the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office — 2,000 detention, 750 sworn, 750 civilian — which was the same number of employees in 2006, he said.

“We have the same size office that we did in 2006, yet the population of the county has grown by 15 percent,” he said.

“So I keep going back to the same place…everything requires funding. If we don’t have the dollars, than all of this conversation is for not because we’re going to have to invest in addressing the issue in where the threat comes from and addressing the issue in how we engage and stop the threat.”

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

Southbound I-17 was closed for a fatal crash on Feb. 20, 2024. (ADOT Photo)...

Southbound I-17 closed just north of metro Phoenix for fatal crash

The southbound lanes of Interstate 17 were closed just north of metro Phoenix on Tuesday afternoon for a crash, officials said.

34 minutes ago

Bob Sanders will officially become the Buckeye police chief on March 3, 2024. (Buckeye Photo)...

Buckeye appoints new police chief to lead West Valley city

Buckeye announced Tuesday it had promoted Bob Sanders to police chief after serving a decade as deputy police chief in the West Valley city.

1 hour ago

Saiya, at First Avenue and McKinley Street in the Roosevelt Row area, had its last beam placed on t...

Downtown Phoenix apartment tower Saiya reaches construction milestone

A downtown Phoenix high-rise apartment tower that has been under construction for nearly two years recently reached a milestone ahead of its anticipated summer opening.

2 hours ago

Peso pluma singing on Mesa's Sloan Park stage in 2023....

Mexican singer Peso Pluma to stop in Phoenix on ‘Exodo’ tour this fall

Mexican singer Peso Pluma announced a stop in Phoenix on his upcoming tour, officials said.

4 hours ago

Firefighters at the scene of a house fire in Goodyear, Arizona...

West Valley firefighters rescue elderly woman from burning home

West Valley firefighters rescued an elderly woman from an overnight house fire in Goodyear, authorities said.

5 hours ago

Kari Lake greets supporters after announcing her bid for the seat of U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema on Oc...

Kevin Stone

Here’s what Kari Lake said about abortion, Ukraine, border, more in wide-ranging interview

Arizona U.S. Senate hopeful Kari Lake discussed her views on abortion, the war in Ukraine, border security and more in a wide-ranging radio interview Monday.

6 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.


Collins Comfort Masters

Avoid a potential emergency and get your home’s heating and furnace safety checked

With the weather getting colder throughout the Valley, the best time to make sure your heating is all up to date is now. 


Sanderson Ford

The best ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day and give back to the community

Veterans Day is fast approaching and there's no better way to support our veterans than to donate to the Military Assistance Mission.

Sheriff Paul Penzone voices concerns about Ducey’s school safety plan