Guadalupe leaders angry with Arpaio - East Valley Tribune: News

Guadalupe leaders angry with Arpaio

Print
Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Friday, April 4, 2008 11:26 pm | Updated: 10:00 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

For the second straight day, scores of Maricopa County sheriff's deputies and civilian volunteers swept through Guadalupe targeting suspected illegal immigrants as frustrated town leaders said they wanted Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio out and a different police agency to patrol their streets.

Arpaio's migrant, crime patrol targets Guadalupe

VIDEO: Tribune's Nicole Beyer talks to Guadalupe residents

SLIDESHOW: View photos from the Guadalupe crime suppression sweep

VIDEO: Community members react to the sweep

For the second straight day, scores of Maricopa County sheriff's deputies and civilian volunteers swept through Guadalupe targeting suspected illegal immigrants as frustrated town leaders said they wanted Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio out and a different police agency to patrol their streets.

Arpaio's migrant, crime patrol targets Guadalupe

VIDEO: Tribune's Nicole Beyer talks to Guadalupe residents

SLIDESHOW: View photos from the Guadalupe crime suppression sweep

VIDEO: Community members react to the sweep

On his part, Arpaio said he would continue performing such sweeps, and that Mesa would likely be his next target.

Less than two hours into Arpaio's Guadalupe crime suppression operation on Friday, officials with the sheriff's office said they had made two arrests - none of whom were illegal immigrants. That brought the two-day total to 28 arrests, five of which involved people suspected of being in the country illegally.

Town leaders, however, are furious with Arpaio, who they said broke his word by using the two-day crime sweeps as a pretext to target illegal immigrants.

"I don't agree with this at all. This is racial profiling and it needs to stop," Councilwoman Alma Yolanda Solarez said. "He's not serving the public and this is not what we pay him for."

Solarez said they were assured by the sheriff's office that deputies were coming into town to cut down on a recent spike of street crimes such as assaults and robberies.

Guadalupe, which has a population of nearly 5,500, doesn't have its own police department and pays the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office about $1.2 million a year for law enforcement services. The contract is renewed each year and can be terminated by either the town or the county with 90 days' notice.

Under the current contract, the sheriff's office is supposed to supply one deputy during the day and two at night to work the Guadalupe streets. Town Manager Mark Johnson said the department exceeds that by providing two deputies per shift. The sheriff's office has been the town's sole law enforcement agency since 1990, when Guadalupe decided to dismantle its force amid some controversy.

In light of Arpaio's recent actions, Guadalupe Mayor Rebecca Jimenez now wants the sheriff out of her town and has spoken with Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon about a deal that would allow the Phoenix Police Department to take over.

However, Arpaio was undeterred, saying that once he finished the sweep operation in Guadalupe the town was free to sever ties with him. However, he warned the mayor that as the county sheriff he would still have the right to come in and look for illegal immigrants no matter what the primary law enforcement agency was.

"I'm going to continue doing this until there are no more illegal immigrants around here," Arpaio said during a news conference.

In the past, the surrounding cities of Tempe and Phoenix have not been willing to take on the role of police in the town of mostly Hispanic and Yaqui Indian residents. Therefore, Guadalupe officials had few alternatives when it came to hiring a police force.

But the sweeps being conducted by the sheriff's office this week appear to have changed the prevailing attitudes. Gordon said Jimenez called him Thursday night almost in tears to talk about the possibility of a deal being struck between the two communities.

He told Jimenez that if she takes an official proposal to the city and talks with public safety manager Jack Harris that he would be "confident the mayor and council would back it."

Gordon and Arpaio have sparred publicly over the appropriateness of the immigration sweeps that started last month in a pair of working-class east Phoenix neighborhoods.

Gordon had called them "made-for-TV stunts." Arpaio responded by sending a letter to the Phoenix city manager defending his decision to conduct the operations.

The sheriff kicked off the operations in Guadalupe on Thursday by dispatching more than 50 deputies, about 60 sheriff's posse members and a helicopter into town.

During the first night, sheriff's deputies arrested roughly 26 people - five of whom are suspected of being illegal immigrants.

But even as sheriff's deputies continued to patrol the streets on Friday and the political rhetoric between Arpaio and Jimenez escalated, those living in Guadalupe appeared unaffected.

Customers breezed in and out of local convenience stores. A group of teenage boys played baseball in the narrow streets, and people gathered for barbecues in their front yards and watched as sheriff's SUVs and patrol cars rolled past.

"No, it hasn't bothered me. I've seen a lot of cars stopped but not me," said Eliseo Chavira, who spoke only Spanish. His son Gaeriel translated for him. Chavira, a landscaper, lives in a small two-bedroom house a block away from the town's main thoroughfare.

In another part of town, one woman said she had just started noticing a higher police presence. "You know, they should let these people alone. They're just here to work," said Guadalupe resident Mary Munuz, 45.

Meanwhile, eight lawmakers have entered the debate over Arpaio's patrols and have signed a letter asking him to bring them to the East Valley - a request the sheriff said he would consider granting. The letter, written by Rep. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, was signed by fellow Republicans Mark Anderson of Mesa, Warde Nichols of Gilbert, Steve Yarbrough of Chandler, Eddie Farnsworth of Gilbert, Sen. Chuck Gray of Mesa and Sen. Karen Johnson of Mesa.

"We encourage you to continue to enforce the laws and put America and our citizen's rights first. We also invite you to the Southeast valley to assist in the enforcement of our laws and support you in this effort," the letter states.

Yarbrough said he backs the sheriff's efforts despite the possibility that many opponents will draw comparisons to the Chandler roundup of 10 years ago, when local police officers worked with federal agents to arrest suspected illegal immigrants.

"People are going to draw that comparison, but we need to follow and enforce the law," he said. "Times have changed since then."

Arpaio did not specify when he might move on Mesa, but the sheriff did say he wasn't sure how closely he would work with local police officials such as Mesa police Chief George Gascon avoid any problems. "I'm not sure about the Mesa police chief - he doesn't like me much," Arpaio said.

  • Discuss

Facebook

EastValleyTribune.com on Facebook

Twitter

EastValleyTribune.com on Twitter

Google+

EastValleyTribune.com on Google+

RSS

Subscribe to EastValleyTribune.com via RSS

RSS Feeds

Spacer4px
Your Az Jobs