How would Sheriff Penzone deal with speeding Arizona lawmaker?
PHOENIX — An Arizona legislator caught speeding and darting in and out of traffic bragged in body camera footage to an unidentified La Paz County Sheriff’s deputy that he had even gone 140 mph before.
However, Rep. Paul Mosley (R-Lake Havasu City) told the deputy that “[the deputy] should just let him go and that I shouldn’t waste anymore of my time dealing with him” because of the legislative immunity in the Arizona constitution.
But how would that situation unfold if it took place in Maricopa County?
“I’m sure that my deputies in that situation would also be conflicted because its not something we commonly deal with,” Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Mac and Gaydos on Tuesday.
“And more often not, we have legislators or other elected officials that have respect for the law and they’re not going to put law enforcement in that position where they behave in that manner. Most would say, ‘Hey, my bad, write me a ticket because I clearly had it coming.'”
However, Penzone said he understands why the legislative immunity is in place: “It exists so that with minor infractions, law enforcement officials are not in a position where they could effect the outcome of votes, if someone doesn’t get there in time to vote, or other factors.”
But when a lawmaker, like Mosley, is accused of abusing that immunity, it could be deadly, he added.
“You take a vehicle that weighs a third, a half, three-quarters of a ton and you propel it 140 mph, you are an unguided missile. You blow a tire, whatever it may be, you could take a life,” Penzone said.
“It’s poor leadership, it’s irresponsible, I would even argue its unethical and it’s just unreasonable to take something and abuse it because of the authority or power you’ve been given.”
While Mosley has not personally faced any repercussions from the March 27 incident, it has made an impact on state law.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey removed reckless driving from the types of offenses that lawmakers have immunity from during the legislative session — and said Tuesday he wants to eliminate Arizona’s legislative immunity provision altogether.
But until then, Penzone said he will work to prepare his deputies for a similar situation.
“I wouldn’t want to isolate that particular deputy,” Penzone said.
“I would say, ‘As an organization, here’s our law, here’s our policy, here’s how I’d expect you to respond, and when it is in question, what is the process for us to write this up and determine whether we could cite after the fact,'” he added.
“As an office we have to educate our employees so they know how to best handle it and know that we’re going to support their actions.”