Elected law enforcement officials are in the precarious position of approaching their job from either a half-empty or a half-full position. As we’ve seen from many a sheriff, fear is a tremendous motivator when it comes to driving an agenda. Some sheriffs might cast their office as the object to be feared. Other sheriffs cast the outside world as the source of all danger.
The latter is what we witnessed in the public arena from Sheriff Paul Babeu on Tuesday.
In a press conference (which turned into a political speech), Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu claimed he has “additional intelligence” that Mexican hit men or “sicarios” were heading into Arizona to assassinate rival drug cartel members. Those attacks would likely take place over Memorial Day weekend. He cited several incidents south of Pinal County and advised campers and hikers to be fully armed and prepared to protect themselves. The press conference turned political when Babeu blamed the Obama Administration for not protecting our southern border (a point we agree on).
Members of the media immediately picked up on the sheriff’s advisory and ran with stories of impending threats and attacks to American citizens in the Arizona desert. Several media outlets didn’t quite take the bait (KTAR, KPNX)
What was barely mentioned was that hours after the warning, congressional candidate Paul Babeu sent out a fundraising letter mentioning his press conference and advisory. The timing couldn’t be more obvious: Fear is a tremendous motivator for fundraising.
Babeu even appeared on Your World with Neil Cavuto talking up the threat and danger of Mexican assassins running rampant through the Arizona desert.
[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]The timing couldn’t be more obvious: Fear is a tremendous motivator for fundraising.[/pullquote]
Some of us aren’t buying Sheriff Babeu’s ploy. Here’s why:
First, any threat of this nature would be announced from the Department of Homeland Security, FBI, Border Patrol and Arizona Department of Public Safety. When a threat is this serious and credible, it is vetted at all levels of government and is passed through multiple chains of command and communications. Governor Doug Ducey would be one of the first to know and to issue warnings through Arizona DPS. The Sheriff claims he was informed about the threat but failed to share it with other law enforcement agencies?
Second, Paul Babeu is a candidate for congress running on a single-issue – immigration and border security. Even though Pinal county does not border Mexico, illegal border crossers still make their way through his jurisdiction – just like they do in every other county in Arizona. We certainly won’t disagree that immigration and border security has become a national security issue we should take seriously, but some politicians have used the issue as a fear-for-votes political strategy. For Paul Babeu, it’s the only issue he knows and he’s using it at every opportunity for pure political gain. Multiple media appearances and fundraising letters from Babeu are evidence of this.
Finally, in law enforcement matters, every serious credible threat demands a serious credible response or action plan. According to reports, during his press conference, Sheriff Babeu made no request for assistance from the Governor’s office, Arizona DPS, Homeland Security, the National Guard, the FBI, etc. Instead, he told private citizens to arm themselves. A review of several Arizona law enforcement agency websites including the Governor’s office, shows no mention of public safety threats by sicarios in the Arizona desert.
We’re not buying it.
The truth is, we have a county sheriff running for Congress who is sensationalizing on the only issue he knows in order to grab media attention and raise money for his political campaign.
In the meantime, private citizens have been told to pack heat in the badlands of Arizona by a sheriff who apparently is finding it difficult to protect his own constituents.
This Memorial Day weekend, we recommend being vigilant of all threats – whether they’re credible or presented for pure political profit.
But most importantly, we ask that you remember and honor those, who against all fear and personal gain, paid the ultimate price through their selfless sacrifice to protect and preserve our freedoms.