February 21, 2010 2 Comments
In the winter, I live in the town of Carefree, Arizona. We are carefree because of one man. Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
Because of the famed (or infamous if you are a bleeding heart liberal) Sheriff Joe, we have a saying in Carefree: “They won’t steal money off the street.”
What a contrast to Sunnyside, where I have operated a business for 20 years, and lived four different times for various periods up to several years.
The most recent Sunnyside crime wave has left residents in all areas fearful that not only will they steal money off the streets, but kid’s toys out of the front yard, costly television sets out of the living room, and anything left in a parked and locked car.
The gangs and drug criminals are stealing our sleep as gun shots echo through the night in various neighborhoods. They have also stolen our peace of mind and our liberty as we are fearful to even go to the grocery store at night.
Yet Sunnyside and Carefree are very similar in many ways. Both have cheerful names. Both are small desert cities. Both are in heavily Hispanic areas. That’s right. Carefree is a suburb of Phoenix. What is more Hispanic than Phoenix?
Why do people in Carefree not bother to lock their cars and houses? And why do locked doors do no good in Sunnyside?
The difference is Sheriff Joe.
He is an elected official who presides over a vast county strung out around Phoenix-Scotsdale, including many small cities like Carefree where Sheriff Joe provides the policing.
Because Sheriff Joe answers only to the voters (re-elected continuously with 65% of the votes) he is able to practice zero tolerance policing without interference from politicians. When they try to interfere he sues them.
We have another saying in Carefree: “Don’t spit on the street or you’ll do time in the tent prison.”
Most people obey the letter of the law in Carefree because of the tent prison. When it is 110 degrees, do you want to be a guest of Sheriff Joe, who boasts that he feeds inmates for 35 cents a day?
Just ask Charles Barkley, the former NBA star turned sportscaster. Sir Charles, as he was known in his NBA days, celebrated too much New Year’s Eve. Drove too fast. Result: a mandatory three days in the tent prison.
The speed limit in Carefree is 25 mph. You better not drive 30 mph.
Because Sheriff Joe knows there are bad guys out there, his cars work in pairs. Usually, with a tow truck right behind. Sheriff Joe knows that the way to really hurt a bad guy is to tow his “ride”. Nothing they hate like walking home in 110 degrees because of no insurance.
Here’s the beautiful thing. The bad guys know they are likely to lose their precious wheels and end up in the tent prison if they enter Sheriff Joe county.
So they go someplace softer. Like, maybe, Sunnyside.
Oh sure, the liberal critics scream that Sheriff Joe triggers lawsuits with his treatment of inmates. Do the good voters of Maricopa County care? No, because the insurance company looks after the lawsuits and everybody sleeps soundly. No gun shots in the night with Sheriff Joe’s officers in the neighborhood.