Larkin and Lacey: The Legacy of America’s Worst Sheriff


Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio had been a polarizing figure in the media, but for many Arpaio was never fit to be sheriff of Maricopa County. Throughout much of his tenure with the police department he has developed a reputation as a brutal and corrupt leader, often violating the rights of his prisoners and the citizens he had sworn to protect.

The article, “The Enduring Sins of Joe Arpaio: Newspapermen Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin Speak Out in Response to Donald Trump’s Pardon of America’s Worst Sheriff” written by Stephen Lemons discussed the long history of Arpaio and his run in with Phoenix New Times creators Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin.

The reason that Arpaio has drawn so much public ire is in response to a recent Presidential pardon that he received from Donald Trump. Just weeks after Arpaio was sentenced for a charge of contempt of court, President Trump issued the pardon. A U.S. District Judge has upheld that decision. Learn more about Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey: http://www.bizjournals.com/phoenix/potmsearch/detail/submission/6427427/Jim_Larkin and http://www.bizjournals.com/phoenix/potmsearch/detail/submission/6427818/Michael_Lacey

To Lacey, it was not a shock that Arpaio weaseled out of having to pay for his crimes. He has always believed Arpaio to be exceptional in the political arena and saw his affiliation with Trump as a safety net. In fact, Arpaio was one of Trump’s early supporters after seeing how much traction he was gaining in the political world. This made it possible for Arpaio to gain support when he was called out on his many violations and this ultimately saved him from having to serve jail time.

Originally wanting to bill himself as “America’s Toughest Sheriff”, Arpaio only succeeded in going down as “America’s Worst Sheriff”. His corruption and sometimes illegal exploits were well known throughout his detractors. The Phoenix New Times was a frequent publisher of his business practices and soon drew Arpaio’s wrath. Read more: Michael Lacey | Facebook and Phoenix New Times | Wikipedia

Journalist for the newspapers were harassed and reporters were banned from his press conferences. Even with that, Larkin and Lacey were fighting to provide their readers with the truth. Throughout the course of investigating a piece of land that Arpaio seemingly owned outside of his meager budget, the Phoenix New Times published Arpaio’s home address.

This resulted in a subpoena for a grand jury hearing that Larkin and Lacey quickly shared with their readers. Arpaio had had enough of the journalists and called for their immediate arrest, a violation of their rights.

Instantly there was a public outcry over the arrest. The men were released and sued the county immediately, receiving 3.75 million dollars. They used this money to set up a Frontera Fund aimed at helping the migrant population located in Arizona.

Members of the community had suffered through Arpaio’s rule for quite sometime and the men wanted to invest in programs to help them. The Frontera Fund is still going strong today, creating awareness and fostering the growth of these programs.

Regardless of Arpaio, Larkin and Lacey have proven that change starts with one person. Arpaio may have received a pardon, but he will always maintain the legacy of “America’s Worst Sheriff”.