Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Sheriff Joe doesn't put up with that

Shaquille O'Neal, the Phoenix Suns basketball player who is also a certified and licensed peace officer, has been told by Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio that he will no longer be a special deputy for his office, and that he is to return his two badges to the sheriff.

Arpaio is angry that O'Neal was caught on tape using foul and racially derogatory language while rapping about former teammate Kobe Bryant.

""I want his two badges back,' Arpaio told The Associated Press on Tuesday. 'Because if any one of my deputies did something like this, they're fired. I don't condone this type of racial conduct.'"

Exactly right. If being racially insensitive is the serious crime that society currently makes it out to be, then the consequences should apply to anyone who makes such statements, especially a public servant, even if his job is mostly ceremonial. O'Neal should receive the same public shaming that Don Imus is currently getting. Again.

"'Maybe I'm old fashioned, but I don't think that either conduct should be out there publicly, even if media wasn't there,' Arpaio said."

It must be awfully painful to insert a size 22 foot into one's mouth, but that's exactly what O'Neal has done in this case. He's finding out the hard way that being a public safety officer who works for the citizenry necessitates a higher degree of maturity, professionalism and discretion than does being a pro athlete whose primary job is entertaining fans. You'd think he would know better, especially after all of his training.

It's admirable that Shaq wants to go into public service once his basketball career is over, but he needs to act like the professional officer that he wants to become, if he wants to be taken seriously should he decide to pursue that line of work.

In other Sheriff Joe news, the local alternative weekly in Phoenix is reporting that his office is allegedly using intimidation tactics to thwart legitimate news requests. If true, this would be a disturbing revelation, and it would sharply revise downward my opinion of Arpaio.

We will check further into the allegations and report back.

1 comment:

SJ in Mesa said...

Hmmm... Sheriff Joe. Many years ago, I liked him and thought that he was good for Maricopa County. In the past few years, I have come to think of him as a media whore who really isn't having an effect on reducing crime in this county.

One of his disturbing incidents was a raid for illegal weapons. None were found, but the house burned down and a family pet was killed. Seems to me that he also had the brilliant idea of setting up random checkpoints throughout the county to pull people over to search their vehicles for... well... whatever they could find. It had to be explained to him that the Constitution frowns on what he'd planned.

When family and friends who do not live in Arizona e-mail me to tell me about how great Sheriff Arpaio is, I retort that they don't live in my county. The man had some good ideas here and there, but I think it's time for a new sheriff in town.