ARIZONA NEWS

Outgoing Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone reflects on toughest days on the job

Nov 7, 2023, 4:22 PM | Updated: 4:44 pm

(Photo by Jon Cherry/Getty Images)...

(Photo by Jon Cherry/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jon Cherry/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone knows what his toughest days on the job will be after he departs the office at the start of the year. They were days that happened too often.

“It’s handing the flag to a family member who lost a loved one in the line of duty,” Penzone told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Gaydos and Chad Show on Tuesday.

Penzone said one instance in his tenure has especially stuck with him. Deputy Juan “Johnny” Ruiz was beaten by an inmate during processing at a sheriff’s substation outside Phoenix in October 2021.

Ruiz was found knocked out and bleeding. He died two days after the incident at 45.

Penzone said the ensuing days elicited a response from him that was unusual for him.

“I had spoken to my wife and she’s always my muse and I said, ‘Listen, I’m going to say something uncommon for me because I have to,'” Penzone said. “I’m looking at these men and women in their face and all they’re ready to do the job.

“They need a shot of adrenaline that their sheriff is out in front and not following behind on this one. I did a news conference and I called the bad guy a scumbag POS and I said he’s either going to jail or somewhere else tonight. Just to see the men and women respond to that because they know the task at hand and the loss of their friend and their colleague.”

Clinton Robert Hurley, 30, was the man accused of overpowering Ruiz and taking the deputy’s vehicle to escape, crashing through a gate.

Hurley was on probation from a 2012 case in which he served time in prison after pleading guilty to attempted child molestation, according to court and prison records.

Ruiz had served with MCSO for three years.

“This is the most difficult and the most important thing that you do if you’re a law enforcement leader because if you don’t show respect to that family and let them know that their loved one lost was not in vain, then you have dramatically failed,” Penzone said. “So, those are always the heaviest days.”

We want to hear from you.

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

Arizona News

West Valley Silver Alert. Headshot of Roger Holm of Surprise, who went missing Wednesday, May 29, 2...

KTAR.com

Silver Alert issued for West Valley man who went missing after leaving home on foot

A Silver Alert was issued Wednesday night for a West Valley man who went missing after leaving his home that morning.

36 minutes ago

Summer is nearing in Arizona, but for many teens it can be a time of deep insecurity for fear of ha...

Heidi Hommel

Here are warning signs of body image issues as Arizona summer nears

Summer is nearing in Arizona, but for many teens it can be a time of deep insecurity for fear of having to put on a bathing suit.

3 hours ago

(Facebook Photo/White Castle)...

KTAR.com

White Castle restaurant set to open in Goodyear in June

National fast-food chain restaurant White Castle plans to open its third Arizona location in Goodyear on June 11.

3 hours ago

A highway sign marks State Route 89A, which will be closed in the Sedona area from Jun. 3 to Jun. 7...

Aaron Schmidt

Closures of State Route 89A north of Sedona for rockfall project to start next week

PHOENIX — Drivers who would typically use State Route 89A at the switchbacks in Oak Creek Canyon north of Sedona will have to find an alternative route next week. SR 89A will be closed in both directions between Pine Flat Campground and the Oak Creek Vista scenic overlook from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday […]

3 hours ago

Tom Horne: One-on-one tutoring program benefits Arizona students...

Serena O'Sullivan

Arizona schools chief Tom Horne says tutoring program is boosting reading, math scores

The Achievement Tutoring Program, which is a one-on-one tutoring program for Arizona students, improves academic performance, Tom Horne says.

3 hours ago

File photo of a Phoenix Police SUV parked next to yellow crime scene tape. Police responded to rPol...

KTAR.com

Woman killed, man injured in crash in north Phoenix

A woman was killed and a man was injured in a two-vehicle collision in north Phoenix on Wednesday afternoon.

10 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Beat the heat, ensure your AC unit is summer-ready

With temperatures starting to rise across the Valley, now is a great time to be sure your AC unit is ready to withstand the sweltering summer heat.

...

COLLINS COMFORT MASTERS

Here are 5 things Arizona residents need to know about their HVAC system

It's warming back up in the Valley, which means it's time to think about your air conditioning system's preparedness for summer.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

Outgoing Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone reflects on toughest days on the job