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Penzone explains failures that led to drug, sex offenders serving on posse

(AP Photo/Matt York)

PHOENIX — After the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office revealed that drug and sex offenders were found to be serving on its volunteer posse, residents had one question: How did this happen?

“There are so many elements in the sheriff’s office that we’re trying to address with the staff that we have and the priorities we have,” Sheriff Paul Penzone told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Bruce St. James and Pamela Hughes on Tuesday.

“Unfortunately, this audit wasn’t completed and brought to my attention until recently.”

The department announced Monday that individuals who had been arrested or convicted for domestic violence, drug crimes, sex crimes and other offenses were removed from the posse.

While Penzone did not say how many posse members were accused of these types of crimes, he said they “don’t represent the masses.”

“The examples you’re speaking to are the extreme examples and, from my perspective, it’s not something that I want to be the narrative,” Penzone added.

“But…at the end of the day, we cannot accept that the organization has failed to get each individual potential posse member through the entire process.”

Penzone said only four of the 240 posse members completed the entire certification process.

“We have to make sure that we can look at the person who is the best of the best, has no ethical issues, but if they haven’t gone through all five stages, they still have to complete it,” Penzone said.

“So for me, this is about process, it’s about consistency and it’s about a standard we aren’t going to fall on.”

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