I'm sure the author would support this solution. No credits, no market, no trading, no conflicts of interest.
2 posts • joined 13 Dec 2007
I received an email a while back about this guy and how great he was. After receiving this email, I decided to do a little research to determine exactly how effective Sheriff Arpaio’s tactics are. After all, his approach makes common sense. Surely this get-tough strategy must have reduced crime more than the “coddle-the-offenders” approach used elsewhere.
Short version: Arpaio has served during a time when violent crime decreased in localities comparable to Maricopa County, yet under his tenure violent crime has *increased* there. In fact, violent crime in the city of Phoenix (which is inside the county but not under the sheriff's jurisdiction) declined while it was increasing in areas for which the sheriff was responsible.
Through my research, I discovered some interesting facts. First of all, Maricopa County, Arizona, is home to an estimated 3.6 million people, making it the fourth largest county in the United States by population, comparable in size to Harris County, Texas (3.7 million people, third largest county), Orange County, California (3 million people, fifth largest county), and San Diego County, California (2.9 million people, sixth largest county). Like Harris County, Texas, and San Diego County, California, Maricopa County is home to a large city (Phoenix, AZ). With a population of approximately 1.5 million people, Phoenix is the fifth largest city in the United States. For comparison, Harris County, TX is home to Houston (1.9 million residents), whereas San Diego County, CA is rather obviously home to San Diego (1.3 million residents).
So at first it looked as though Sheriff Arpaio had his hands full. However, the city of Phoenix has its own police force. In fact, in 2004 the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office reported jurisdiction over only 289,962 residents. I therefore decided to compare the crime statistics reported by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office to those reported from eight other localities, those being as follows: the city of Phoenix, AZ, the city of San Diego, CA, the county of San Diego, CA exclusive of the city, the city of Houston, TX, the county of Harris, TX exclusive of Houston, Pima County, AZ, and the United States as a whole. I included Pima County, AZ, because it is adjacent to Maricopa County and the population under the jurisdiction of its sheriff is nearly identical to that of Maricopa County, although I expected some differences because it sits right on the border with Mexico and is in general less affluent than Maricopa County. I included the U.S. as a whole as a baseline.
I gathered statistics on violent crime and property crime from 1985 to 2004 for each of these eight areas. In order to judge Sheriff Arpaio’s methods, I calculated the change in the rate of violent crime and property crime in each locality from 1992 (Arpaio’s first year in office) to 2004. The results were enlightening.
Maricopa County did indeed have the lowest rates of both violent crime and property crime throughout the sampled period. However, the county was the only locality to experience an increase in the rate of violent crime during the period. While violent crime decreased by 39.3% in the city of Phoenix, it increased by 16.1% under the sheriff’s watch. Property crime in the county decreased during the period, but the rate of decrease was less than that of any other locality sampled.
In summary, I found that, not only are Sheriff Arpaio’s tent cities not working as well as I had expected, but law enforcement in general in Maricopa County seems to be less effective than in any other locality sampled, and with respect to violent crime may actually be counterproductive.
References available upon request etc.
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