The Pinal County taxpayers dodged a bullet this past Tuesday as a game of political theatre became nothing but a media circus arranged by our Sheriff Paul Babeu. The Sheriff’s political stunt in Oracle was dangerous to our law enforcement officers and the public at-large.
The Sheriff played the game perfectly. Get your base out by scaring them with a supposed arrival of young migrants from Central America and make sure you are seen as man who can placate both sides. You have to hand it to Pinal County’s top cop, he had a lot of people out to protest those wanting to welcome the apparent new arrivals to Sycamore Canyon Academy and those who were against. There was even a mariachi band on hand as well.
On the surface it might seem like a good chance to exercise your freedom of expression. But, as you know and the Sheriff certainly knows, this is a heated issue on both sides. An issue that sometimes brings out the worst in everyone.
Knowing how divisive an issue like immigration has become, you have to question what were the motives of Sheriff Babeu when he chose to disclose what he supposedly heard from a “whistleblower.” Did he choose to bring this information to county management and the Supervisors so the county could help in developing a safe plan of action? No, he went straight to his base to stir the flames of passion regarding young immigrant children. This does not support law enforcement’s motto of “To Serve and Protect.”
This has the markings of a person who cannot comprehend the consequences of such an act. There are a lot of “what ifs” I could bring up. But the only one that frightens all of us is – what if this political stunt resulted in injuries and possibly a fatality?
Who then is on the hook for Sheriff Babeu’s quest for more camera time?
Yes to all three. Let’s say something bad did happen. The county would most likely be sued for letting this happen, even though the Board of Supervisors cannot dictate how the Sheriff does his job. Who pays the settlement? You, the taxpayers do. The county does have insurance, but an act like this would probably mean our liability premiums would skyrocket.
While the taxpayers dodged a huge bullet to the pocketbook on Tuesday, you have to wonder when is the next time the Sheriff will want to get some time in front of the camera? Who will be left on the hook for his actions? You, the taxpayer.
Pete Rios, Supervisor, District 1