Joe Arpaio calls himself “America’s toughest sheriff,” but the Arizonan might instead be the biggest fraud in law enforcement, San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore hinted Friday to a Coronado audience.
“When somebody is doing something right, what’s the highest form of flattery? Impersonation or whatever,” Gore said. “You don’t see what he’s doing being copied all over the United States.”
Gore had especially pointed words for the Maricopa County sheriff’s involvement in perpetuating the assertion that Obama’s birth certificate is fake.
Gore criticized Arpaio for sending a posse of volunteer investigators to Hawaii—far outside of his jurisdiction—to look into the matter.
He called the situation embarrassing and said of the birthers’ contention: “I ain’t buying it.”
“I think it’s a gigantic waste of energy—and I’m a Republican,” he told the Coronado Roundtable at the Coronado Library.
Those who would like to see Arpaio’s style of jail management embraced by San Diego County will be disappointed, Gore said.
Arpaio is known for his get-tough approach with his Phoenix area inmates, from housing them in tents in the desert offering them green bologna sandwiches and assigning them pink underwear.
“I have a different philosophy, my predecessor had a different philosophy, all the professional people in corrections have a different philosophy,” Gore said. “The job, the punishment is removing them from society.”
He noted that part of his responsibility is to be mindful of recidivism rates and how proper treatment can play a role in keeping inmates from returning to jail after their releases.
Under audience questioning after he concluded his remarks, Gore noted that well-heeled political backers of conservative causes, such as the Koch brothers, would have been far more likely to turn up evidence of a fraudulent birth certificate than volunteer detectives.
This wasn’t the first time Arpaio has come under fire by fellow sheriffs.
In 2011, Pima County Sheriff Dupnik of Tucson told Newsmax that if Arpaio were an appointed chief of police instead of an elected official, he would be “fired tomorrow” for comments he made about the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and others.
In 2008, a New York Times editorial called Arpaio “America’s worst sheriff,” citing a report on his record by the Goldwater Institute.
Gore also stood firmly by his department and the Coronado police conclusions that Rebecca Zahau committed suicide and Max Shacknai died in an accident in July 2011.
The physical evidence, he said, from toxicology to DNA to footprints, guided investigators.
“I was convinced beyond any kind of doubt that there was no way that could have been a murder,” he said of Zahau’s death.
He is confounded by continued criticism of the departments’ findings in the cases, from both the Zahau family and the Shacknai boy’s mother.
“What is the motive for all of law enforcement to come together and conspire and lie about this case?” Gore asked. “We all getting paid off by somebody? We let the facts and the evidence lead us to conclusions.”
He accused unscrupulous attorneys of manipulating grieving family members into pursuing questions about the cases and the media of drawing undue attention to the mansion deaths.
As an example, Gore cited, without naming the outlet, the television station that ran re-enactments of how Zahau might have bound and hung herself from a mansion balcony.
Gore said the station’s news director, whom he did not name, told him that he thought Zahau killed herself, but only ran the re-enactments and other Spreckels stories because they drew strong ratings.
“They knew it was all BS, but the ratings went up every time,” he said. “It’s a shame.”
The station that offered the re-enactments was KFMB. Dean Elwood, Channel 8’s news director, denied Gore’s allegation.
“If he’s implying that I said this, that’s not accurate,” Elwood said, adding that he stands by his station’s reporting.
The remainder of wide-ranging discussion, nearly 90 minutes long, included Gore’s update on the conditions of a detective and deputy shot in Lakeside this week and a breakdown of the ramifications as county officials house more inmates because of state budget cuts.
He also noted that the county wants to greatly improve upon the state’s high recidivism rates with prisoners.
To help achieve that goal officials are building a $30 million dormitory-style facility to offer inmates counseling and other services to prepare them in the months before their releases.