‘America’s Toughest Sheriff’ pulls no punches in his speech

Morgan Park, Reporter

The Bakersfield Business conference has come and gone with a host of highly anticipated speakers taking the stage to share their view on the current political landscape, but few were met with as much potent delight and excitement as Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio, or as he has been named, “America’s Toughest sheriff.”

Arpaio kicked off his speech with an expression of confusion and apathy toward technology.

“I don’t have iPads, uPads, emails…maybe Hillary should follow me,” he said as the crowd erupted.

He then pivoted to his job as sheriff and mentioned he works 14 hours every day. Arpaio is running for re-election this month and is plainly aware of those who want him out of power.

“They think they’re going to kick me out. A lot of people are against me from the White House down. But you know what, my mother and father came here from Italy…so I got the Italian blood in me. Churchill said ‘never surrender,’ so this guy is not going to surrender.”

The comment is clearly a reference to the investigations into Arpaio’s work practices by the federal government over the last several years for alleged misuse of state funds, racial profiling, inhumane and unconstitutional living conditions for his “Tent City” prisoners, and corruption of power at the state level.

Arpaio then shifted to “Tent City,” a network of tent prisons in the deserts of Arizona built by the sheriff in the ’90s.

“It’s a great program. I’ve had four presidential candidates visit me in the tents. If those tents are so controversial, so bad, why did four people running for President of the United States stand next to me in the tents? If I’m President, I will put up tents all over the United States.”

Arpaio mocked those who say the tents are inhumane and unconstitutional at 136-degree weather.

“You know how I shut everybody up? Our men and women are fighting for our country and willing to live in tents, so shut up.”

He then moved on to the topic of guns, and specifically his comments after the tragedy last year in Colorado Springs.

“I went public, and I said anybody in the county I have in the state of Arizona that has a gun, I respect that person to take that gun out when there’s a rampage and shoot the guy!

“So I took a little heat on that. Why not let the public, the private citizens, carry the guns and take action to help save lives?”

“Five days later in California, remember what happened (referencing the San Bernardino shooting of December 2, 2015)? They killed, what, 13 people? Would it not have been nice if somebody was there with a gun to take the guy down?

“That’s just common sense,” he said.

Arpaio then shifted to the country’s recent movement toward higher accountability for police officers.

“There’s a war on crime. I’ve been saying it for three years,” he said. “The administration would rather put cops in jail than the bad guys. Think about it. We have to do something to protect and defend our law enforcement.”

On the topic of Donald Trump and the recently released 2005 tape of him bragging about sexually assaulting women (which at the time of this speech, had only come to light the day before), Arpaio defended the nominee.

“I know he’s taking a lot of heat, I’m not going to talk further about all of that,” Arpaio said.

“But I wanted to let people, he took time, six times, to call my wife, and he doesn’t even know what my wife looks like. I at least know he’s got a heart somewhere.”

In the days since the tape’s release, 10 women who say Trump sexually assaulted them in the past have come forward to share their stories of abuse.

Arpaio then talked about Hillary Clinton’s time as secretary of state.

“Where was Hillary during the years? [Why didn’t she] go to Mexico, deal with the President and tell them, ‘you stop this drug problem.’ We have drugs flooding our country. Heroin is killing people. Do you ever hear anything about it? You hear any politician talk about it?

“How many times has she and President been to Mexico to force them and tell them ‘you do something about this drug traffic, and we’re going to take away your foreign aid.’”

When the time for audience questions began, one man asked about the Arizona law enforcement’s rules of engagement.

“Who sets their rules of engagement, and are there any plans to change them in the future?” he asked.

Instead of answering the question, Arpaio used the opportunity to talk about government interference.

“To answer your question, we don’t want the feds telling local authorities how to run their jobs. Now, the President is using this civil rights division by going after 19 police departments.

“We have to be very careful. We don’t want a national police department, and that’s what looks like is happening.”