While Sheriff Joe was pursuing a vendetta against County officials, chasing down Mexicans with broken tail lights, and raiding dry cleaners demanding immigration papers, over 400 sexual assaults were going under-investigated. According to the article, this was not an accident -- there was a real prioritization that put few resources in the special victims unit and put more and better staff on things like counter-terrorism (Phoenix being a well-known hotbed of terrorist activity).
The understaffing in the special-victims unit was due in part to the Sheriff's Office's priorities -- and the special-victims unit was not one of them, according to a half-dozen current and former sheriff's employees.
Despite a Maricopa County hiring freeze prompted by the faltering economy, the Sheriff's Office from 2005 through mid-2008 was hiring 45 to 50 new deputies annually and tackling initiatives that included counterterrorism and homeland-security enhancements. The office also embraced immigration enforcement, sending 60 deputies and 100 detention officers through a federal immigration-training program and creating a human-smuggling unit with at least 15 dedicated deputies.
Staffing in the special-victims unit remained unchanged during those years: four detectives....
The Sheriff's Office was allocated more than $600,000 in fiscal 2007 for six full-time positions for "investigating cases involving sexual abuse, domestic violence, abuse and child abuse." The Sheriff's Office now says the six new positions were to focus solely on child-abuse cases. In any event, they cannot say where those deputies went to work.
"We don't know," Chief Deputy Sheridan said. "We've looked, and we can't find any of those position numbers which were allocated for child-abuse cases."
This is due in part to the acknowledged misallocation of roughly $100 million in agency funds that had patrol deputies being paid out of an account designated for detention officers.
The department was almost certainly spending more on Joe Arpaio's PR than it was on the special victims unit. Dozens of cases showed no investigation at all, and hundreds showed that no contact had been made either with the victim or the suspect. Piles of case files were found random file cabinets and even one officer's garage.