a look back at Arpaio's career
Joe Arpaio, the 80-year-old lawman who brands himself "America's toughest sheriff," is smiling like a delighted gnome. Nineteen floors above the blazing Arizona desert, the Phoenix sprawl ripples in the heat as Arpaio cues up the Rolling Stones to welcome a reporter "from that marijuana magazine."
The guided tour of Arpaio's legend has officially begun. Here, next to his desk, is the hand-painted sign of draconian rules for Tent City, the infamous jail he set up 20 years ago, in which some 2,000 inmates live under canvas tarps in the desert, forced to wear pink underwear beneath their black-and-white-striped uniforms while cracking rocks in the stifling heat. HARD LABOR, the sign reads. NO GIRLIE MAGAZINES!
From behind his desk, Arpaio pulls out a stack of news clips about himself, dozens of them, featuring the gruff, no-frills enforcer of Maricopa County, whose officers regularly round up illegal immigrants in late-night raids, his 60th made only a few days ago, at a local furniture store. "Everything I did, all over the world," he crows, flipping through the stories. "You can see this week: national magazine of Russia... BBC... Some people call me a publicity hound."
"My people said, 'You're stupid to do an interview with that magazine,'" says Arpaio, talking about Rolling Stone, "but hey, controversy – well, it hasn't hurt me in 50 years."