The slow gears of justice

Now that the most wanted terrorist in the world, Osama bin Laden, has been located and killed, and “justice has been done,” perhaps we can focus on our domestic, local bad guys.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio recently fired his right-hand man, Chief Deputy Dave Hendershott, after receiving a report from an internal investigation, conducted by the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office.

Spoiler alert: Hendershott had it coming.

Hendershott’s termination should have become official on May 5, except that he resigned last Tuesday, according to The Arizona Republic.

The report states that Hendershott clearly abused his power as chief deputy, lied to Arpaio and internal investigators, engaged in political deviance and acted in numerous other unethical and immoral ways. Busted.

The Arizona Republic reported that, “Hendershott in recent years oversaw a high-profile anti-corruption unit that conducted investigations of judges, county supervisors and others.”

Much of the content of the Pinal County report centers on Hendershott’s mismanagement of this special investigative unit, MACE, as “many of those investigations led to no charges or were thrown out.”

According to the report, in contrast to his duties as chief deputy, Hendershott oversaw and managed all of the investigations personally —  rather than leaving the work to actual detectives. “Hendershott, at one point, was involved in what appears to be the point of paranoid obsession with the cases, basically secluding himself in his office in a ‘war-room’ atmosphere, and would not allow other MCSO personnel to enter his office,” the report states.

Hendershott’s judgment and ability to work competently is clearly shown to be virtually non-existent in the report.

The document states that at one point Hendershott reportedly intimidated the detectives he had working for him, threatening to replace them with newer, inexperienced ones if they questioned his directives. He lied about most of this.

“Hendershott’s behavior suggests a loss of perspective about the purposes of the MACE unit, and a request for employee action that clearly was inappropriate. Moreover, Hendershott’s account of what occurred is in significant conflict with the accounts of [others] about what transpired in their various conversations, suggesting a serious truthfulness issue,” according to the MCSO report.

And Hendershott’s “truthfulness issue” apparently even extends to Sheriff Arpaio as well.

Another Arizona Republic article reported that, “in 2010, [Hendershott] decreed that anything they wanted to discuss with the sheriff first had to be presented to Hendershott in a memo. Investigators said that was news to Arpaio.”

Or it could just be the last act of a loyal footman.

Just like former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas and former Deputy Attorney Lisa Aubuchon, Hendershott has a notion of entitlement is disgusting and absurd. It is difficult to imagine how they all thought that they could get away with it — suggesting that arrogance had a significant role in all of this.

But there is nothing quite as bittersweet as cleaning out Maricopa County’s closet. Hopefully, the full-length report will put an end to any questions about MCSO and — if we’re lucky — put Hendershott behind bars.

However, it would be naive of Maricopa County voters to expect any real change out of the MCSO as long as Arpaio reigns supreme.

Contact Danny at djoconn1@asu.edu