The moment I drove through Maricopa County, I sensed something odd. Not so much odd, but off. Everything that I'd known to be true in just was lost. As a California native, I was naive in thinking that Arizona wouldn't be much different. Other than the dry desert he common no grass, and sand dunes, I pretty much expected the same just add a slightly slower pace. What I found something completely out of reality.

From chain gangs shackled together in white and black jumpsuits to high-speed chases down the neighborhood streets, I thought I was truly living in the wild, wild west.

What's was even more shocking, was that the county had had the same sheriff in office for nearly 24 years. That's just craziness! Arizona was stuck in the stone age and desperately needed a reality check. The November 2016 election was just what was needed to start the momentum.

There's a new sheriff in the wild west

Renew, Restore, and Refocus was the promise of the Democratic challenger to the highly fought battle for Maricopa County Sherriff, Paul Penzone. Penzone defeated incumbent Sheriff Joe Arpaio last November and unseated his 24yr reign as "America's Toughest Sheriff". Paul Penzone was the cowboy with the 'white'. A modern symbol of transparency, fiscal responsibility and a true commitment to public safety.

Sheriff Penzone has been committed to his promise to restore trust and rebuild the relationship between the MCSO (Maricopa County Sheriff's Office) and the community. In as short as ten months, he has taken momentous action to return dignity and respect back to Arizonans in building a safe, secure, and respectful community.

The notable shortlist is impressive.

  • The "Tent City" has been deconstructed. No more pink underwear or "waterboard" tactics of intimidation.
  • The unlawful intimidation of citizens targeted by race and color has ended.
  • Taxpayer dollars now being reverted from paying the sheriffs legal fees to providing resources to protect the community from dangerous felons.
  • Increase community outreach in previously underserved neighborhoods.
  • Leading education efforts to address the opioid epidemic devastating rural and small-town communities.

Some detractors will claim that Sheriff Penzone hasn't taken a strong enough stance on illegal immigration or seized enough property from Arizona citizens.

That mindset is likely from those profited during Arpaio's tenure.

Stepping out of the wild, wild west

Not everyone is in favor of the new order. The manner in which the office is run now is light years ahead of what it was. It's to be said, there was a reason Joe Arpaio retained the office for an extraordinarily long period of time. Boldly stated, the people with the position to seek change, liked things just the way they were. They were comfortable in their positions and frowned upon anything that threatened to disrupt their sense of superiority.

I'm comfortable in my opinion that it wasn't until transplants from other states, notably more liberal, filtered into Arizona that change started to take hold.

It has to be said, It's no accident that Paul Penzone lost his bid in 2012 only to dominate with over 55 percent of the vote just four years later.

"Americas Toughest Sheriff" wasn't tough, just a narcissistic bully. Now it's time to move past that nonsense and into the light with a new attitude. We can be encouraged in feeling that now Arizona has a fair and just leader that can help the state move to doing real work and making a real difference in the communities. In the words of our sheriff, "Never Say Never". Not to say there isn't much more to be done, but it's a great start.