December 18, 2008

Sheriff Joe Arpaio has a new reality show on Fox scheduled to debut: "Smile! You're Under Arrest". The grand concept is "'Cops' meets 'Punk'd'." Here are some details:

From creator Scott Satin (Who Wants to Marry My Dad?, Who Wants to be a Superhero?), the show features law officers in Phoenix setting up grandiose sting operations to lure criminals with warrants into their waiting hands, and cameras.

“It is a reverse Punk’d,” says Fox President of Alternative Entertainment Mike Darnell. “Instead of the worst day of your life and then a joke at the end, this is the reverse. This is the best day of your life, and then we arrest you.”

One of three set-ups just shot in Arizona features the cops luring a criminal to a movie set with the promise of making him an extra and paying him a couple hundred dollars. An elaborate film set is staged and filming begins on a faux movie. The set-up continues as the director then gets mad at the lead actor, fires him and replaces him with the law-breaking extra.

The scene escalates with the fake director introducing the mark to a supposed studio mogul and continuing to create this dream-comes-true sequence. Finally, all the participants are revealed as officers of the law, and the criminal is apprehended (before signing waivers to let the footage be used in the show).

Yes, the Sheriff Joe featured in this show is the same Maricopa County sheriff who's made a career out of arresting just about every Latino in sight, while driving law enforcement in the county right into the ground, with hundreds of crimes going uninvestigated -- all while nakedly violating federal regulations.

Moreover, he's also incurred the wrath of the ACLU by attempting to terminate a federal consent decree mandating that he maintain conditions at the county jail that meet constitutional minimums; he also was taken to court in an attempt to force him to live up to a court order to transport female prisoners to abortion appointments.

America's Voice (which made the above video) notes:

  • 2,700 lawsuits have been filed against Arpaio
  • Joe prioritizes immigrant sweeps over prosecuting felons (there are 40,000 outstanding warrants in his county)
  • The Sheriff discriminates against Latinos, as found in an Arizona Republic study
  • Joe even staged a phony murder plot against himself!

">The Immigration Policy Center

[pdf file] has a fact sheet with even more info on Sheriff Joe. It notes that he "has transformed his police department into an immigration-enforcement agency."

This was explored in detail in a report from the Goldwater Institute -- not exactly a hotbed of liberalism -- which found that Arpaio's tenure has been a disaster for Maricopa County:

MCSO falls seriously short of fulfilling its mission in all three areas. Although MCSO is adept at self-promotion and is an unquestionably “tough” law-enforcement agency, under its watch violent crime rates recently have soared, both in absolute terms and relative to other jurisdictions. It has diverted resources away from basic law-enforcement functions to highly publicized immigration sweeps, which are ineffective in policing illegal immigration and in

reducing crime generally, and to extensive trips by MCSO officials to Honduras for purposes that are nebulous at best. Profligate spending on those diversions helped produce a financial crisis in late 2007 that forced MCSO to curtail or reduce important law-enforcement functions.

In terms of support services, MCSO has allowed a huge backlog of outstanding warrants to accumulate, and has seriously disadvantaged local police departments by closing satellite booking facilities. MCSO’s detention facilities are subject to costly lawsuits for excessive use of force and inadequate medical services. Compounding the substantive problems are chronically poor record-keeping and reporting of statistics, coupled with resistance to public disclosure.

And now he's devoting his energies to one of the more noxious-sounding "reality shows" yet devised -- like something from a Phil Dick novel.

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