First to Sheriff Joe. He held a news conference on Wednesday to announce that he was equipping his deputies with 400 military-style assault rifles.
“We look far and wide for the best people and best equipment,” the sheriff said in a news release on Wednesday. “This Sheriff’s Office has the nation’s largest volunteer armed posse, we are the only law enforcement agency in the nation known to possess a .50-caliber machine gun which can be used in any needed circumstance and soon we’ll have more semi-automatic rifles in patrol cars than about any other law enforcement agency around.”
The sheriff’s timing was impeccably repellent. His news conference came on the same day that Gabrielle Giffords, the former Congresswoman wounded in a mass shooting two years ago, testified at a Senate hearing on gun control and practically begged Congress to do something to end the slaughter.
Unable to finance its own functional law enforcement, Guadalupe relies on MCSO despite a painful history. In 2008 Sheriff Joe conducted highly publicized immigration sweeps here, complete with helicopters and a press conference in the parking lot of the Family Dollar. When the mayor accused him of coming to town under false pretenses, Arpaio told her to find another police department, and sent formal notification that its contract would be canceled. Finding an alternative proved difficult for Guadalupe, as other nearby agencies were too strapped to provide adequate service. That’s why the city continues to pay the MCSO $1.2 million per year for its services, despite the ongoing problems.
They have even disrupted Yaqui funerals, which traditionally culminate in a last meal for the loved one, beginning at midnight. Deputies have broken up the gatherings for violating curfew, despite the fact that nearly the entire town is in attendance.
“Obviously it’s not a party,” Sanchez says. “There’s a coffin there.”
But the curfew is midnight, and the law is the law, and the law is Sheriff Joe.
All that stands between these recruits and this life of adventure is Deputy Hughes and his 10-page application, which begins with an important warning: “Everyone has a history, and sometimes it is difficult to disclose experiences or decisions you may not be proud of.” Hughes explains the importance of honesty during this process, for he says he will subject the application to the same background check as a sworn deputy, even dipping into a candidate’s juvenile history.
On Page 5, we are asked to inventory our traffic and parking citations, plus every instance where we have been arrested, convicted, charged, questioned or detained by law enforcement.
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