The Worst Sheriff In Arizona

Despite his imprudent comments in the aftermath of the Tucson shooting, it isn't Clarence Dupnik, as Dara Lind points out - for that, one must look to Maricopa County's top law man:

Arpaio's approach to public safety has led to the alleged misspending of up to $80 million of Maricopa County taxpayers' money over the last five years -- and, of course, a 58% spike in violent crime in the county since 2002, especially telling given that Arizona's statewide violent crime rate has dropped by 12 percent. Dupnik, by contrast, turned around a corrupt department when he inherited it in 1980, and according to Arizona Department of Public Safety reports, violent crime has dropped 15% in Pima County since 2002.

Obviously the Dupnik recall effort has nothing to do with public safety, and everything to do with politics -- and in fairness, for a sheriff, who's an elected officer, politics is part of the job. But the fact that a sheriff's job performance is so irrelevant to his political presence should be worrisome. It's probably a good thing that crime rates have been declining for so long that people are no longer primarily concerned with the ability of their law enforcement officers to keep them safe -- but, as we've seen in Maricopa County, that trend won't continue if officers start thinking they don't have to keep an eye on public safety as long as they talk a tough game.