Arpaio Recall: ‘Systemic failures’ in botched sex-crimes cases

Posted  by AzBlueMeanie:

The Maricopa County Sheriffs Department on Monday released results of a five-year investigation into why the sex-crimes unit mishandled sex-crime cases. "It concluded that no single person was responsible for systemic failures that resulted in hundreds of cases being reopened." MCSO report: Blame the system for botched sexcrime cases:

Last year, an Arizona Republic investigation into the 400-plus reopened
cases revealed that the Sheriff’s Office failed to adequately
investigate reports of sex abuse and assault — in some cases never
interviewing suspects or running background checks on known offenders.

Some
sex-crime complaints were completely ignored. In other cases, files
were later found gathering dust in a drawer or in a deputy’s garage.
Those shortcomings, combined with lengthy delays in resolving cases,
left alleged predators free to find other victims — sometimes for years.

The
report concluded that detectives who failed to file reports or who
improperly stored evidence at home were no more responsible for flawed
investigations than supervisors who failed to check log books or who
signed off on incomplete case-clearance sheets.

“The deficiencies
identified … were not problems that stemmed from the conduct of one
or a few individuals. Rather, I have determined that … the MCSO
sex-crimes unit was inadequately resourced to complete its tasks. The
systemic problem
could not then, and cannot now, be properly addressed
or corrected by disciplining a few individuals,” sheriff’s Deputy Chief
Brian Sands wrote last week to detectives at the center of the internal
investigation.

“The internal investigation shows that the problems were not unique to
this agency and were systemic in nature,” the statement read. “It is the
policy of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office to seek continual
improvement in all its operations.”

As part of the sheriff’s
efforts to resolve problems in the unit, investigators reopened more
than 400 cases from 2002 through 2008.

This is just a polite way to say that the MCSO sex-crimes unit was a clusterfuck of incompetence that went all the way up the chain of command to the man with whom the buck stops for personal accountability with voters, Crazy Uncle Joe Arpaio.

You will recall from last year's trial of racial profiling by the MCSO, Crazy Uncle Joe Arpaio doesn't accept personal accountability. "I just play a cartoon sheriff on TV." Arpaio's words used against him at racial-profiling case:

Plaintiff's attorney Stanley Young then quickly moved through other
statements Arpaio made through the years regarding immigration
enforcement, some of which were contained in the sheriff's press
releases and others from his 2008 autobiography.

But Arpaio, as he had done in
countless depositions and sworn statements through the years, attempted
to deflect responsibility for some of those statements on to his staff
members
and the co-author of his autobiography.

* * *

Arpaio's recollection on Tuesday was sound, but he refused to take credit for some of the statements attributed to him, and claimed others were taken out of context.

"I don't get involved in those operations,"
Arpaio said when asked about one of the sheriff's immigration sweeps.
"I'm not there on the street patrolling and making arrests."

So to sum up Crazy Uncle Joe Arpaio's testimony:

  • I'm not responsible for the MCSO, I don't know what the hell my deputies are doing
  • Did I say that? I didn't really say that, did I?
  • It's everyone elses fault! I'm innocent, I tell ya!

So much for taking personal accountability, and the officer in charge
being accountable for the actions of those under his command. Crazy
Uncle Joe Arpaio is "large and in charge" only when he is playing a
cartoon sheriiff on TV, but he is not in charge and everyone
else is at fault when legal liability attaches to his actions. MCSO report: Blame the system for botched sexcrime cases:

The investigation laid some of the blame for those flawed cases on
Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s former chief deputy, David Hendershott, who ran the
office’s day-to-day operations until his ouster for alleged misconduct
in 2011. After his departure, Hendershott was blamed for many failures
during his tenure.

The internal investigation refers often to
Hendershott, saying he ignored concerns about staffing in the unit
responsible for sex-crime investigations.

* * *

The sheriff’s investigative report also blames Hendershott for failure
to approve overtime or shift resources to aid the overtaxed unit. The
Republic reported that, in fiscal 2007, the Maricopa County Board of
Supervisors approved $600,000 for new positions that could have eased
the caseload for sex-crimes detectives.

* * *

Records released with the report indicate investigators initially sought
suspensions for several supervisors and detectives in the unit, sending
each letters that identified the violations of office policy and
corresponding punishment.

So Crazy Uncle Joe Arpaio is passing the buck, once again, for systemic failures in the MCSO under his command. Ray Stern at The Phoenix New Times writes Arpaio, Learning Nothing From Hendershott Scandal, Delegates Duties to Chief Deputy:

[Arpaio] admitted in an embarrassing news conference [in 2011] that he'd "made mistakes"
in dealing with his former chief deputy, Dave Hendershott, whom he
fired after evidence of corruption and mismanagement in his office
surfaced. He testified last year [in the Joel Fox trial] that he'd delegated
operations and management of the sheriff's office to Hendershott, and
that Hendershott wasn't even required to report to him on any matter.

Pinal County Sheriff Babeu, after completing an internal
investigation of the multi-faceted scandal, told the news media that he
believed Arpaio had no clue what was going on his own office, right under his nose. [Known as incompetence.}

The Arizona Republic(an), which just last week was pooh-poohing the idea of an Arpaio recall, appears to be softening its position after the release of the MCSO sex-crimes report. Columnist E.J. Montini wrote Another reason, or two, for an Arpaio recall:

[O]ne reason might be the fact that county supervisors just approved a
$550,000 settlement offer for the family of Ernest “Marty” Atencio, 44,
who died days after an altercation with jail detention officers and
Phoenix police.

It’s just the latest in a long, long line of such cases, with
millions in payouts and too many deaths. And the fact that supervisors
approved the money doesn’t necessarily mean that Atencio’s family will
accept it. They could take the case to court.

And that’s not all.

Another reason for the recall just might be the more than 400
sex-crimes cases from throughout the county that were reported to the
Sheriff’s Office between 2002 and 2008 but were not investigated. Or
given only the most cursory look. The sheriff’s office is only now
releasing the 10,000 pages of documents related to its internal
investigation into that horror.

Even columnist Laurie Roberts, who last week was whining "leave Joe Arpaio alone!," appears to be having a change of heart. Sheriff Joe Arpaio still covering up in sex-crime cases:

The internal investigative report, released at 3 p.m. Monday, is
10,000 pages which will take awhile for reporters to digest. But already
a couple of outrageous things are clear:

1. Sheriff Joe Arpaio seems to think he can keep the report under
wraps — or at least make it more difficult for the public to see. He’s
charging $5,000 for a copy of this public document. Or, you can go sit
over at the the sheriff’s office and read it.
The sheriff could put the
thing on a flash drive or a CD and sell it for $10, as the Department
of Economic Security does for its lengthy reports. That Arpaio isn’t
doing that tells me something and it should tell you something, too.
Remember, these are PUBLIC documents and you are entitled to view them.
It shouldn’t cost $5,000.

[Stephen Lemons at the Phoenix New Times, Joe Arpaio Makes Moolah Off Botched Sex Crimes Investigations, and More Sex Crimes May Be Outstanding.]

And 2. Deputy Chief Brian Sands says the sex-crimes unit was
understaffed and thus no one was to blame for the ignored cases, which
spanned from 2002 to 2008. Really, he says that.

“The deficiencies identified …were not problems that stemmed from the
conduct of one or a few individuals,” he wrote. “Rather, I have
determined that … MCSO was inadequately resourced to complete its tasks.
The systemic problem could not then, and cannot now, be properly
addressed or corrected by disciplining a few individuals.”

The systemic problem, as he calls it, occurred for six years and it
happened right under the nose of Arpaio, who was busy deploying his
troops not in search of rapists who prey on children but on dishwashers
and cooks who snuck into the country and on political vendettas which
are now costing us millions in legal settlements.

The deficiencies identified, Chief Sands, were problems that stemmed
from the conduct of one or a few individuals. One, in particular, who
didn’t have control over his then-chief deputy (Dave Henderschott) or
his office.

What’s that old saying…the buck stops here?

How sad that we don’t have a sheriff who even now, can acknowledge
the fact that he failed these children and in so doing, failed us all.

I understand that Respect Arizona is holding an organizational meeting this Saturday to begin circulatiing recall petitions. Check with them for details.

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