Paul Penzone

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Paul Penzone
Paul Penzone by Gage Skidmore 2.jpg
37th Sheriff of Maricopa County
Assumed office
January 1, 2017
Preceded byJoe Arpaio
Personal details
Born (1967-03-29) March 29, 1967 (age 53)
Trenton, New Jersey, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Alma materGlendale Community College
Northern Arizona University

Paul Penzone (born March 29, 1967)[1] is an American law enforcement officer. He is the sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, United States. Penzone was elected sheriff in 2016, defeating longtime incumbent Joe Arpaio. Penzone is a former sergeant in the Phoenix Police Department.[2][3]

Early life and education[edit]

Penzone was born in Trenton, New Jersey. He is the son of Rose and Charlie Penzone, and is of Italian descent.[4] Penzone went to Phoenix's Cortez High School and studied criminal justice at Glendale Community College and Northern Arizona University.[5]

Phoenix police officer[edit]

Penzone joined the Phoenix Police Department in 1988, and served for 21 years.[3][5] For seven years,[5] Penzone ran the Phoenix Police Department's "Silent Witness" program, which encouraged witnesses to report crimes.[3] Penzone ran the program during the high-profile "Baseline Killer" and "Serial Shooter" investigations.[5] Penzone created a Spanish-language version of the program.[3]

After retiring from the police force, Penzone joined the non-profit group Childhelp as vice president. The group focuses on preventing child abuse and neglect.[5]

Maricopa County Sheriff[edit]

Penzone in 2018

Penzone, a Democrat, made his first bid for elected office in an unsuccessful campaign for Maricopa County sheriff in 2012 against incumbent Republican Joe Arpaio.[3][2] In that election (in which Arpaio outspent Penzone by an eight-to-one margin), Arpaio received just over 50% of the vote to Penzone's 45%, with independent candidate Mike Stauffer running a distant third.[3]

In 2016, Penzone again ran against Arpaio, who at that point had been in office for 24 years (six terms).[6][7] In the Democratic primary election, Penzone initially faced former Arizona Department of Corrections supervisor Joe Rodriguez, but Rodriguez withdrew from the race in April 2016 and threw his support behind Penzone "to defeat Sheriff Arpaio in November for the good of Maricopa County citizens."[8]

In the November 2016 general election, Penzone defeated Arpaio by 665,478 votes (55.6%) to Arpaio's 531,674 votes (44.4%).[7] During his campaign, Penzone pledged "to refocus the agency on law enforcement and rein in taxpayer dollars previously spent on civil-rights lawsuits."[9] Arpaio, a controversial figure,[10] had been criminally charged with contempt of court for disregarding a court order to halt the racial profiling of Latinos.[7] Penzone called Arpaio's conduct leading to the contempt charge "unforgivable."[3] During the campaign—which the Arizona Republic described as "an intense, nasty race"—Penzone sued Arpaio for defamation over an attack ad that Arpaio ran.[11]

Penzone pledged to run the sheriff's office in a nonpartisan manner.[12] To that end, he promised to reverse several of Arpaio's "unorthodox and divisive" practices (see Maricopa County Sheriff's Office controversies), which Penzone considers to be publicity stunts, such as forcing jail inmates to wear pink underwear and "investigating" President Obama's birth certificate.[10] Penzone also said that he would scale back the use of inmate chain gangs and review "Tent City" (an area of the jail housing inmates in military-style tents).[10]

After his election, as sheriff-elect, Penzone chose a new leadership team within the sheriff's office.[9] Penzone took office on January 1, 2017.[6][13]

In April 2017, Penzone announced that per a recommendation from an advisory committee, he was shutting down Tent City. He believed the facility was a "circus" that did not effectively deter crime.[14] Tent City operations were phased out over six months; it closed with almost no fanfare in October.[12]


  1. ^ Tolan, Casey (March 3, 2017). "America's Worst Sheriff Is Gone". Slate. Retrieved July 22, 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Paul Penzone defeats Joe Arpaio in Maricopa County sheriff race". KTAR. November 8, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Brahm Resnik (April 7, 2016). "Democrat Penzone making 2nd run against Arpaio". KPNX.
  4. ^ "Home page - Penzone for Sheriff". Penzone for Sheriff. Retrieved December 24, 2016.
  5. ^ a b c d e Tami Hoey, Paul Penzone enters 2016 race against Sheriff Arpaio, KPHO/KTVK (April 6, 2016).
  6. ^ a b New Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone takes office in private ceremony, Associated Press (January 2, 2017).
  7. ^ a b c Arizona Maricopa Sheriff: Results: Paul Penzone Wins, New York Times (December 13, 2016).
  8. ^ Megan Cassidy, Sheriff candidate Joe Rodriguez drops out of race, throws support to Paul Penzone, Arizona Republic (April 12, 2016).
  9. ^ a b Megan Cassidy, Maricopa County Sheriff-elect Paul Penzone names leadership team, Arizona Republic (December 20, 2016).
  10. ^ a b c Jacques Billeaud (November 16, 2016). "Tent jails, pink undies: Odd choices for New Arizona sheriff". Associated Press.
  11. ^ Rebekah L. Sanders & Megan Cassidy, Democratic challenger Paul Penzone sues Sheriff Joe Arpaio for defamation in race for sheriff, Arizona Republic (September 30, 2016).
  12. ^ a b Megan Cassidy (October 9, 2017). "Maricopa County's Tent City jail officially shut down". The Arizona Republic.
  13. ^
  14. ^ Megan Cassidy; Laura Gomez (April 4, 2017). "Tent City, infamous home of inmates who wear pink underwear and major piece of Arpaio's legacy, is closing". The Arizona Republic.
Civic offices
Preceded by
Joe Arpaio
Sheriff of Maricopa County