Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone discusses new job outside of law enforcement

Dec 19, 2023, 10:30 AM | Updated: Dec 22, 2023, 9:17 am

Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone speaks into a microphone in the KTAR News studios in Phoenix, ...

Paul Penzone is moving from the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office to Blue Cross Blue Shield. (KTAR News File Photo)

(KTAR News File Photo)

PHOENIX — Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone is trading in one shield for another, but it has nothing to do with law enforcement.

Penzone is going to work for Blue Cross Blue Shield after he ends a seven-year run leading the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office next month. He will be in charge of the insurer’s community programs and charitable giving.

Penzone said talks with Blue Cross Blue Shield initially involved security aspects before evolving.

“They’ve given me an amazing opportunity, and it’s a great organization,” he told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News on Tuesday.

How will Sheriff Paul Penzone’s next job resemble his current one?

The new job actually isn’t a total departure from his law enforcement and political career, he said.

“For all these years I’ve had the chance to focus on issues in the community, but more so from the law enforcement/public safety side of the fence,” Penzone said.

“Now [I will] be in the position to try to help seed organizations that are doing great work to help almost the exact same issues, but just from a different perspective.”

However, he’s anticipating a more subdued work environment.

“My roughest day is if I have to say no to somebody,” he said of expectations at his next endeavor. “I don’t know how I’ll get used to people not yelling and being angry with me. It will be an adjustment for me.”

How is Paul Penzone approaching his final days as sheriff?

Penzone announced Oct. 2 that he was leaving his elected office in January 2024 with one year left on his second term. He said at the time he was stepping down to pursue opportunities to serve the public in different ways.

His résumé includes 21 years with the Phoenix Police Department and a stint as vice president of Childhelp, a nonprofit dedicated to the treatment and prevention of child abuse.

The Democrat was first elected sheriff in 2016, ousting longtime Republican Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and won a second term in 2020.

Jan. 12 will be his last day in office. Penzone said that while he’s excited about his next chapter, he’s in no hurry to turn the page on his law enforcement career.

“I think if you stay in the moment where you are and you appreciate it for what it is, then … there’s much more joy in it. So, every day I just kind of wrap my arms around … having this privilege and the honor being the sheriff, and I don’t try to run from it,” he said.

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Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone discusses new job outside of law enforcement