Maricopa County Sheriff Penzone says he’s moving on at right time, proud to rehab agency

Dec 5, 2023, 4:25 AM | Updated: 6:36 am

PHOENIX — Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone is entering his final month leading an agency he says he is proud to have turned around following the departure of his predecessor.

Penzone told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show on Monday he was ready to move on, but would remember his impact on an agency that was marred with controversy under Joe Arpaio.

“I’ve had employees come up to me and express gratitude, saying that they felt historically … the view of the organization in the past was not a good one and everybody who wore the tan uniform or represented the office carried that burden of criticism of this demonization,” Penzone said.

“Now, they express that they have pride in the organization, that they feel like they’ve been treated with respect and the community now respects them.”

What has changed at MCSO since Penzone took over?

Since winning election in 2016, Penzone has done away with a number of Arpaio’s controversial programs and policies such as Tent City jail, which Penzone closed and tore down in 2017.

Penzone, a Democrat, has also worked with officials to correct what courts deemed as violations of the law and unethical practices in regards to traffic stops and racial profiling.

The Republican Arpaio was found guilty in July 2017 of misdemeanor contempt when he continued his immigration sweeps for 17 months after a judge ordered him to stop.

Penzone said his tenure has at times been dedicated to cleaning up the problems of old.

“I would hope that my legacy, whether my name’s attached to it or not, is that the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office is seen as one that is professional, ethical and does what’s best for the community’s interests and that the men and women in the organization represent all those values,” Penzone said.

What’s next for Penzone?

Penzone hasn’t revealed his next position but said the goodbyes have been flowing in since announcing his intentions to leave MCSO in early October.

He said that he understands he hasn’t pleased everyone in his two terms but is grateful for the support during his tenure.

“I try not to get intoxicated on it because you face as much criticism as you do love and you can’t be broken when somebody criticizes and you can’t think too much yourself when they’re giving you a compliment, but it was really humbling,” Penzone said.

“So I feel like I’m leaving at the right time.”

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Maricopa County Sheriff Penzone says he’s moving on at right time, proud to rehab agency