Is MCSO ignoring serious crimes?

by Clint Bolick
Goldwater Institute

In a pair of reports in 2008-09, the Goldwater Institute documented a very disturbing practice in the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office: a persistent habit of declaring serious crimes solved and closing cases without serious investigation, much less arrest or identification of suspects.

Amidst the swirl of funding misappropriations and alleged internal misconduct, MCSO’s failure in this core law-enforcement function has gone relatively unnoticed. But the real-world ramifications are enormous, because declaring a crime solved without investigating it means that criminals are at large, no one is looking for them, and the victim likely never will have justice.

When El Mirage formed its own police department several years ago, it obtained dozens of files from MCSO in which serious criminal cases were closed with little or no investigation.

More recently, according to ABC 15, MCSO itself reopened 500 cases dating back to 2005, and found that 400 lacked investigative work. Many of the uninvestigated cases reportedly involved sex crimes against young victims.

In our reports, the Goldwater Institute recommended that all law enforcement agencies be required to report essential statistics such as number of crimes, cases closed by arrest or otherwise, and cases prosecuted; and that random audits should be conducted to ensure that cases that are declared solved actually resulted in the arrest or identification of a suspect who is beyond the reach of law enforcement. Unfortunately, those recommendations were stripped from a government transparency bill in the legislature in 2010. These recommendations were introduced again this year and didn’t even get a hearing.

If there is a silver lining to this dark cloud perhaps it is that all this media attention will finally prompt the legislature into action next year. If there is one area beyond all others in which people need to be able to hold government accountable, it is those entities charged with the high responsibility of protecting our safety, our lives, and our property.

Clint Bolick is director of the Goldwater Institute’s Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation.

Learn More:

Goldwater Institute: Mission Unaccomplished: The Misplaced Priorities of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office

Goldwater Institute: Justice Denied: The Improper Clearance of Unsolved Crimes by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office

ABC 15: MCSO speaks out about ignored sex crimes


  1. Oberserve says:

    Yes. Blind “conservative” support of the MCSO only puts a black eye on the conservative movement.

    Open sexual deviance, ignoring crimes such as Navarette’s, etc. It’s a shame.

    This is not a liberal vs. conservative thing.

    This is a good government common sense thing. Conservatives don’t support bad government. Liberals do. Simple as that.

  2. “Conservatives don’t support bad government.”

    So, you’re suggesting that it was liberals who ran a support Sheriff Joe rally a week ago? Senator Al Melvin must be surprised to know he’s a liberal.

    • Oberserve says:

      Just because a person claims they are a conservative doesn’t mean they are one.

      Talk is cheap.

      ACTIONS say everything.

    • Steve Calabrese says:

      Klute, I believe that “support” rally was for a number of elected Republicans. I considered attending and I would never be considered a support of Arpaio.

      Arpaio claims to follow many conservative opinions. He talks like a conservative. His actions, and disrespect for the rule of law, say otherwise, but that distinction often eludes many otherwise solid conservatives who support him. However, as the truth emerges about Arpaio, his conservative support is lessening.

      • Oberserve says:

        Maybe those you consider “solid” conservatives are really not so solid after you scratch the surface.

        Just because you support Haney doesn’t mean you are a conservative. Haney is not conservative in many areas.

        Blind support of “leaders” is also not a traditional conservative trait.

        • Steve Calabrese says:

          Oberserve…I gotta ask…was that a generic statement or was the “you support Haney” directed at me?

          Just wonderin’, because if it was, that’s pretty funny.


          • Oberserve says:

            “You” in the generic sense. In other words, “one”. You’re more thoughtful than a blind follower.

      • “His actions, and disrespect for the rule of law, say otherwise, but that distinction often eludes many otherwise solid conservatives who support him.”

        Which, frankly, have been evident to the left for almost a decade now – and that’s probably part of the problem. Often times it seems like the GOP/Conservatives/etc. (what ever iteration of “right leaning political philosophy is preferred by the right) doesn’t actually care about support values it claims to believe in – it seems to care more about “will this really stick in the Left’s craw”.

        Scott Brown, for instance. All you’ve got to do is Google “Sonoran Alliance” and “Scott Brown”, and man, did the BS doth flow, from almost every self-described conservative on this website. There was ample evidence he was going to screw over the right, and it was more “Man, won’t the libs hate it if we win Ted Kennedy’s seat”, not “This person upholds tradition conservative values.”

        Arpaio has long since been since as a poisonous influence on law enforcement, and supporting Napolitano over what’s-his-face for Governor should have been enough for the GOP to throw him over the side, but you all just couldn’t let the “left” win (Dan Saban wasn’t even a leftist by any stretch of the imagination) now you’ve got a guy who was engaged in using a governmental office for personal vendettas, who was not doing his damn job, who used the Arizona and US Constitutions for toilet paper, and had actual illegal activities being run out of his office, and NOW the conservative movement is ready to chuck him over the side – which won’t happen, because you’ve entrenched him so well that people actually believe the lies you originally sold them on.

        And Sen. Melvin sold it on twitter as an Arpaio/Pearce rally. One’s readying for some time at Club Fed, and the other is desperately trying to hold onto his seat because he forgot to, you know, represent his district. So, Sen. Melvin apparently is one of those well-meaning doofuses you speak of…

        • Steve Calabrese says:

          Conservatives supported Scott Brown because we felt he was the best we can do in that state for that seat. I think he is voting exactly as expected; I don’t think he “screwed over the right”, and although I disagree with some of his votes I’m still glad he’s there.

          Klute, you bring up an interesting issue – both liberals and conservatives tend to read news that supports their views. Phoenix New Times – which is NOT as hostile to conservatives as they may think, but also is hardly a bastion of conservatism – is often ignored by conservatives, and they have been at the forefront of exposing Arpaio’s bad behavior – although they tend to come at it from a liberal angle (wah, he’s targeting illegals!), they do tend to also expose abuses which are offensive to conservatives as well…but most conservatives never read them. If you just surround yourself with people who feel the same way you do, it tends to choke the flow of information.

          But then, Klute, you know all this…because you’re here. :)

          • Steve Calabrese says:

            Oh, and Klute, there is a small group of hardcore GOP conservatives that has not forgotten or forgiven Joe for his “non-endorsement endorsement” of Janet N. in 2002. I’m one of them.

          • Oberserve says:

            Steve, I’m one of them. I SAW the commercial that aired live over and over. Arpaio definitely endorsed Nappy Napp Nap. Clear as a bell for anyone who had to grit their teeth watching it.

          • Oberserve says:

            Maybe it was an Eye-talian thing. Got to support your paisanos!

          • “…although I disagree with some of his votes I’m still glad he’s there.”

            You don’t read Free Republic enough. I think the Ayatollah had more compassion for Salman Rushdie than Freepers have for Scott Brown.

            “…both liberals and conservatives tend to read news that supports their views.”

            Something I’ve never understood. I read Sonoran Alliance, Hot Air, the Corner, Gateway Pundit, etc. as much as I read Kos, TPM, Think Progress, etc. I’m not going to say I don’t already have a thesis statement, but at least I’ve got something to prove/disprove.

            “…it tends to choke the flow of information.”


  3. Nordine Crub says:

    The fish always rots first from the head…Sheriff Joe has got to go

  4. My sister, Julie Patterson, was murdered in Fountain Hills, AZ on August 10, 1991. Her murder has never been solved. My fear is that hers is another case ignored by Sheriff Arpaio.

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