Former Phoenix police officer Paul Penzone is running for sheriff of Maricopa County because he takes pride in policing, he said.

Penzone made an appearance at the monthly Democrats and Doughnuts meeting at Biscuits on Wednesday. There he explained his background to the group and talked about why he’s running for office.

Penzone worked for the Phoenix Police Department for more than 20 years doing mostly undercover work, like tracking drug traffickers and then he was assigned to a task force in the Drug Enforcement Administration. Next, Penzone spent seven years managing Silent Witness. He retired from law enforcement and went to work for Childhelp, a national nonprofit that helps abused and neglected children.

“I didn’t aspire to be a sheriff,” Penzone said. “When I left law enforcement I left content. I wanted to go work in an industry where I was giving back. I was fortunate to do that. I was giving back on a serious problem and working with a lot of good people, but I complained for a long time about our sheriff. For me, I take pride in law enforcement and what he has done is he has disrespected what the badge stands for, he has misrepresented what this community stands for and he has taken upon himself to project an image of Arizona that is unfair. We can’t stand for it anymore. When I told my wife, she said stop complaining and do something about it.”

Penzone said a sheriff is supposed to run detention centers, patrol unincorporated areas, and facilitate success for other agencies. He’s in favor of getting rid of tent city as soon as there is money to build a permanent facility, but in the meantime he said it needs to be changed.

“Not everyone in jail has been convicted, and even if they have it doesn’t mean we should treat them poorly,” Penzone said. “If it were up to me I’d rather have a permanent structure that’s safe for the inmates, the deputies, and the detention officers. Right now, I don’t know if we can fund that so we’ve got to clean it up and change the culture.”

Penzone said he believes his competitor, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, does not have more support but that his supporters are passionate about voting.

“If you polled every person that could vote I guarantee it would be 65-35 or 70-30, because people have seen enough and have had enough,” he said. “We have to recognize that he can be beaten. You just have to inspire your friends to get out and vote, and then we have to educate.”

For more information on Penzone, visit Penzone is running against incumbent Joe Arpaio. More information on Arpaio’s campaign can be found at

Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or

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