Sheriff Joe Arpaio has hogged Arizona’s limelight since he was first elected in 1993. His edgy law enforcement tactics, such as outfitting prisoners in pink underwear and feeding them green bologna, made him a media darling. Journalists have kept Sheriff Arpaio in their crosshairs for nearly two decades, always waiting to see what unorthodox plan he would come up with next. But author Bill Louis thinks that Sheriff Arpaio became too distracted by theatrics and shirked the duties required of an elected sheriff. With his book If There Were Any Victims…, Louis has launched a crusade to unseat “America’s Toughest Sheriff.”

Louis was a career law enforcement officer who spent decades moving up the ranks of the Phoenix Police Department. In November 2007, he was hired as the assistant police chief for the El Mirage Police Department. What eventually landed on his desk in his windowless office, in the small, bedroom community of El Mirage, was unconscionable. He and the El Mirage Police Department were the horrified recipients of boxes of police files that contained unsolved rape cases and uninvestigated murder reports.

These boxes came straight from the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO), which had been receiving payment from El Mirage to provide police protection and perform criminal investigations. As Louis explains in his book, Sheriff Arpaio and his deputies failed to uphold their end of the bargain. The Special Victims Unit at MCSO never interviewed young children who were reportedly raped by family members. His investigators never checked the alibi of the violent boyfriend of a woman who was brutally murdered. When El Mirage severed their contract with MCSO after just a few years due to citizens’ complaints, the incomplete files became the responsibility of Louis and his new team. Louis was tasked with penning an extensive report detailing the negligence of MCSO, including all of the specific cases and the victims associated with them. This report was sent directly to MCSO. Despite this lengthy and involved report, Sheriff Arpaio seemed unsure if any harm resulted from his negligence during a press conference on December 5, 2011. “If there were any victims, I apologize to those victims,” he said. These words sparked so much outrage in Louis that he vowed to write a tell-all book exposing the misdeeds of the sheriff and his deputies.

If There Were Any Victims… is a chilling book that demands accountability. The story needs no exaggeration or embellishment, and Louis sticks to the facts. Using real police reports, and lots of them, he provides examples of Sheriff Arpaio’s carelessness in handling and closing files. But even more harrowing than the reports is the lack of closure in each case. The perpetrators were never brought to justice, even though the victims often knew and could provide names of the offenders.

As a whole, the book is a cautionary tale. It advises against the dangers of an elected law enforcement official singly interested in bolstering his reputation with highly publicized illegal immigration raids, while completely neglecting his other vitally important duties, such as investigating the rape of children in the community. But what makes the book more thoughtful and complex is that Louis uses each individual police report presented in the manuscript as its own cautionary tale. In one instance, he exemplifies a case in which a girl was raped by a man she met on the Internet to advise parents of the dangers of allowing adolescent children to use the Internet without any supervision. In another, he tells the story of a live-in boyfriend who sexually assaulted his girlfriend’s young daughters, seizing the opportunity to discuss the dangers of bringing an improperly vetted significant other into a house with young children. By taking the time to offer insight about how to protect immediate family members from becoming victims, Louis shows that underneath his disgust for Sheriff Arpaio is an ingrained desire to protect and serve the most vulnerable people in the community.

Louis is not a writer by trade, and that is apparent. If There Were Any Victims… has some rookie mistakes. The statistics are totally plausible but lack proper citations. At times, the writing is choppy, with some paragraphs being little more than a few terse sentences. But in spite of these issues, the message is crystal clear: Sheriff Arpaio is more interested in fame and glory than justice and human dignity. As for the criminals that were never so much as questioned by Sheriff Arpaio’s deputies, some of those bad guys are still out there, possibly living next door to you and your children, in your quaint bedroom community.

GALO: After high school you joined the military, and then, after you left the military, you became a police officer. What motivated you to become a police officer?

Bill Louis: For me it was a lifelong passion. My father was a police officer and I grew up in that environment. It was just one of those things that were ingrained in me. If I could have done it right out of high school, I would have, but you have to be 21. For me, it was a lifelong dream to become a Phoenix cop. There was never any question — that’s what I was going to do.

GALO: What were your motives for writing If There Were Any Victims…?

BL: That’s an easy question. This was an issue — this whole thing about the mishandling of the sex crimes cases — that was very, very big and personal for me and my staff out at El Mirage. We uncovered this mess out there. It had not been discovered until we were there. I had spent decades at the Phoenix Police Department, and when I went out to El Mirage and found this mess, it really got to me. We could not believe this was going on. And then I looked into it and found out why. He took all of his people out of his sex crimes investigation unit, his SVU. It really became an issue for us. We did the right thing. We did all the right things. We notified them. My staff and I spent months reinvestigating these cases, putting together summaries, and notifying Sheriff Arpaio. We notified him in writing. When we notified him, he was pissed off. He was angry that we contacted him in writing about it because he was concerned that we now created a public record of his neglect. I’m thinking to myself, ‘Well, of course we’re going to create a public record. We’re not going to cover this up or anything. We’re going to do the right thing, even though you didn’t.’ So, we didn’t go public. We did the right thing. We gave him all of the information and investigated the cases to the extent we could, all of them. And that was it.

He told us that he was starting an internal investigation… Fast-forward to last December; this becomes a big issue in the media. The media had gotten hold of the AP briefs and breathed new life into this issue. And then, he made that comment. When he made that comment on December 5, at that press conference, questioning if there were in fact any victims, it upset me again. It brought up old wounds from a couple of years earlier and I just had enough. I had enough of this guy’s baloney. I’m not sure if I wrote this or not, but if there’s anybody in Maricopa County who knows there are victims — and many, many victims — in this situation, it’s him. I told him. I wrote the report. I submitted it to him, and he responded. So, I knew that he knew (when he made that comment) that there were victims, and he knew there were hundreds of victims. That was my motivation. That press conference on December 5 ,when he made that heartless and callous apology, if you can call it an apology, questioning whether there were any victims, is the reason I wrote the book — plain and simple.

I’d like to expound a little bit more on that. I started writing the book, and when I got about halfway into the book, at the coaxing of my wife, I decided I would try to make some good come out of all of this bad. That’s why, in the second half of the book, I decided to put information about how to prevent becoming a victim and all that other stuff that’s in the last four or five chapters. I decided to make this something that parents, children, counselors and police officers, can read and gain some knowledge out of all of this mess that happened — some insight into the lives of victims, insight into how Sheriff Arpaio’s office screwed up. So, instead of just an exposé, I decided to try to turn this into something good, and that’s why the second half of the book reads like it does.

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