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Maricopa County Sheriff's Office

The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) is the law enforcement agency that serves Maricopa County, Arizona, and is the largest sheriff's office in Arizona. The MCSO provides patrol services and criminal investigation to unincorporated areas of the county and operates the county jail system.[3] It also serves as the primary law enforcement agency for any incorporated cities within the county that have contracted with the agency for law-enforcement services (known as "contract cities"). The county sheriff is elected by the citizens and serves as the highest law enforcement official in Maricopa County. The current Sheriff of Maricopa County is Paul Penzone, elected in 2016. As a result of policies and practices under former sheriff Joe Arpaio the MCSO has received significant critical media coverage, federal investigation, and judicial oversight.[4]

Maricopa County Sheriff's Office
Patch of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.png
Agency overview
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdictionMaricopa, Arizona, U.S.
Size9,224 square miles (23,890 km2)
Population4,242,997 (est 2016)
General nature
HeadquartersPhoenix, Arizona

Agency executive
Aviation UnitsBell 407, OH-58, TH-55, Cessna 206, and Piper Navajo
Official Website

Law enforcement authorityEdit

The MCSO does not possess a legal identity separate from Maricopa County. Deputy Sheriffs of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office are delegated their law enforcement authority by the Sheriff of Maricopa County.[5]


Maricopa County is the fourth largest county in the United States, and has a total area of 9,224 square miles (23,900 km2). The county is currently divided into six geographical areas, referred to as Districts, and consist of District 1, District 2, District 3, District 4, District 6, and District 7. Districts are generally staffed by a District Commander (Captain), Deputy Commander (Lieutenant), uniformed sergeants and patrol deputies, detectives, and administrative staff. Districts overlap city agencies, as the Sheriff's Office has concurrent jurisdiction in these areas.

District 1 – covers an area of approximately 1,053 square miles (2,730 km2) in the southeast quadrant of the county. District One encompasses the cities of Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa, and Tempe, along with the Town of Guadalupe and CDP of Sun Lakes. District One also includes portions of the Town of Queen Creek, and the cities of Apache Junction, Scottsdale, and Phoenix, including the Ahwatukee Foothills. While District One is not the largest district in size, it is historically the busiest, averaging approximately 40% more calls for service than any of the other districts.

District 2 – covers an area of approximately 5,200 square miles (13,000 km2) in the southwest quadrant of the county. District Two provides service to the rural areas of Buckeye, Laveen, Mobile, Rainbow Valley, and Tonopah, as well as to the contract cities of Gila Bend and Litchfield Park. District Two also includes portions of Avondale, Glendale, Goodyear, and Phoenix.

District 3 – covers an area of approximately 1,600 square miles (4,100 km2), bordered by Northern Avenue on the south and I-17 on the east, extending to the northern and western borders of the county. District Three includes the areas of Sun City and Sun City West, the communities of Wittmann, Waddell, Circle City, Morristown, Whispering Ranch, Aguila, Gladden, and the unincorporated neighborhoods surrounding Peoria, Surprise, and Wickenburg.

District 4 – covers the unincorporated areas of Anthem, Desert Foothills, New River, Cave Creek, Carefree and Tonto Hills. District Four also provides law enforcement to the contract Towns of Cave Creek and Carefree.

District 6 – covers, on a contract basis, the Town of Queen Creek. The Town of Queen Creek was previously a part of District One, but was officially designated as its own district in 2008, with its own complement of deputies and command staff. There continues to be, however, several unincorporated neighborhoods in and around Queen Creek that are still serviced by District One. Portions of the corporate town limits of Queen Creek fall within the jurisdictional boundaries of Pinal County, but are provided law enforcement services by Maricopa County.

District 7 – covers the unincorporated areas of Fountain Hills, Tonto Verde and Rio Verde. It also provides contract law enforcement services on a contract basis to the Town of Fountain Hills.

Rank structureEdit

Title Insignia
Chief Deputy
Executive Chief
Deputy Chief
Deputy or Detention Officer

The following insignia are respective of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office Uniform Specification policy GC-20. Detectives & Deputies are the same rank. Detective is not a promotion within MCSO it's just a different assignment.[6]

Specialized unitsEdit

Lake Patrol

In addition to patrolling the unincorporated areas, the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office is responsible for patrolling the lakes and waterways in the recreational areas within the county. The Lake Patrol Division is responsible for law enforcement services in the recreational areas of Tonto National Forest and Lake Pleasant Regional Park. This area includes Saguaro, Canyon, Apache, Bartlett and Horseshoe Lakes as well as the Lower Salt and Verde River recreational areas, Four Peaks, Superstition, Mazatzals, Camp Creek and Seven Springs recreational and wilderness areas. The total area of responsibility is over 1,000 square miles (2,600 km2), which are visited by an estimated 1.5 million people every year.

Lake Patrol Division deputy sheriffs operate four-wheel-drive vehicles, all-terrain vehicles, patrol boats, jet skis and an air boat. All are certified Emergency Medical Technicians and several are Paramedics. The division also has a detective section which investigates crimes, deaths and boating accidents on the lakes and rivers.

Trails Division

The Trails Division has the responsibility for law enforcement services in the recreational and wilderness areas of the Maricopa County Parks. The total area of responsibility consists of over 120,000 acres (490 km2) that are visited by approximately 1.8 million persons each year. The Maricopa County parks system is the largest regional parks system in the nation, and includes the areas of Buckeye Hills Recreation area, Cave Creek Regional Park, Estrella Mountain Regional Park, Lake Pleasant Regional Park, McDowell Mountain Regional Park, San Tan Mountain Regional Park, Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area, The Desert Outdoor Center at Lake Pleasant, Usery Mountain Regional Park, and White Tank Mountain Regional Park.

The Trails Division deputies operate four-wheel drive vehicles and all-terrain vehicles, and also uses bicycles, mounted, and foot patrols.

Aviation Division

The Aviation Division provides airborne law enforcement support to uniformed patrol, Lake Patrol, Search and Rescue operations, narcotics enforcement, extraditions and SWAT operations.

The Aviation Division is staffed with a Commander, Helicopter Flight Operation Supervisor, Fixed Wing Supervisor, Director of Maintenance, fourteen sworn Deputies, five Civilians, two instructor pilots and an Administrative Coordinator. The Division is a 24-hour-a-day 7 days a week operation and employs four helicopters and two fixed-wing aircraft.

The flagship of the division is a Bell 407 helicopter with a call sign of "FOX 1." This helicopter is equipped with FLIR (Forward Looking Infra Red), stabilized binoculars, Ultichart moving map and an SX-5 night sun spotlight. This helicopter performs direct patrol, search and rescue operations, narcotics surveillance and photo missions.

In addition "FOX-1", the Aviation Division operates "FOX 4," a Bell Military OH-58 helicopter acquired in 1996 from the Defense Reutilization Program. It was completely rebuilt and placed into service in July 1998, and is also used for direct patrol, search and rescue operations, narcotics surveillance and photo missions.

"FOX 5" is a Schweitzer TH-55 helicopter acquired from the Defense Reutilization Program. "FOX-5" has been fully restored and is the primary training aircraft for MCSO Aviation personnel. This is the same type of aircraft used by the military to train pilots since the 1960s.

For fixed wing, the division utilizes a single engine Cessna 206 and a twin engine PA-31 Piper Navajo. Both aircraft are housed at Glendale Airport and are used primarily for extraditing fugitives from other states. Fixed wing aircraft are also used for narcotics and smuggling surveillance missions.

K9 Unit

The Sheriff's Canine Unit includes 25 canines with various specialties, including narcotics, explosive ordnance, cadaver, and patrol. The unit's staff consists of one Sergeant, ten Deputies, five Detectives and four Detention Officers.

All canines trained in narcotic detection are capable of finding and aggressively alerting on cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamines, heroin, and their derivatives. Collectively, they have assisted in the seizure of over 5.3 million dollars in narcotic tainted monies. All canines trained in explosive ordnance detection are trained to detect and passively alert on 13 different odors. The tobacco canine is trained to find and aggressively alert on all forms of tobacco.

Patrol dogs are trained in building searches, area searches, officer protection, crowd control, trailing, and provide a strong psychological deterrent to certain types of criminal misconduct. Our cadaver canine is trained to find and passively alert on decaying human tissues, bones, and fluids. Our bloodhounds are utilized to track down suspects and locate missing or lost individuals.

Canine team members typically work patrol operations during peak activity hours, usually from about 6 PM to 4 AM. They also augment SWAT operations; provide contractual services for narcotic detection at several local schools; provide narcotic and explosive ordnance detection for not only our office, but for other local, state, and federal agencies; they are on call 7 days a week 24 hours a day, and conduct over 100 public relations demonstrations annually.

The utilization of police canines provides law enforcement with a non-lethal means of apprehending dangerous criminal offenders; detecting intruders and alerting handlers to their presence; pursuing, attacking and holding criminal offenders who resist apprehension; searching and clearing buildings and large open areas for criminals; tracking lost children or other persons; detecting the presence of certain narcotics, explosives, and tobacco products; locating deceased subjects, crime scenes, and minute physical evidence; and provide a strong psychological deterrent to certain types of criminal misconduct.

M109 howitzer

The Arizona Army National Guard to offer a M109 howitzer to the sheriff's office in 1999. Demilitarized, it made outings during parades until 2017 when it was resumed by the National Guard for reasons of economy.[7]


There is a permanent, organized Sheriff's Posse that provides civilian volunteer support to the sworn deputies of the Sheriff's Office. Dozens of individual posse units can be called upon for various needs, such as a Jeep posse, equine mounted units in various cities, a ham radio operator posse, a diver's posse, and an air posse of licensed pilots.

Contract citiesEdit


  • William Hancock (1871)
  • Thomas Barnum (1871)
  • Thomas Warden (1871–72)
  • Thomas Hayes (acting, 1872)
  • Thomas Hayes (1872–74)
  • George Mowry (1875–80)
  • Lindley Orme (1881–84)
  • Noah Broadway (1885–86)
  • Andrew Halbert (1887–88)
  • William Thomas Gray (1889–90)
  • John Montgomery (1891–92)
  • James Murphy (1893–94)
  • Lindley Orme (1895–98)
  • David Murray (1899–1900)
  • Samuel Stout (1901–02)
  • William Cook (1903–04)
  • John Elliott Walker (1905–06)
  • William Cunningham (acting, 1906)
  • Carl Hayden (1907–12) – last territorial sheriff
  • Jefferson Davis Adams (1912–17)
  • William Henry Wilky (1917–18)
  • John G. Montgomery (1919–23)
  • Jerry Sullivan (1923–24)
  • Andrew Moore (1925–26)
  • Jerry Sullivan (1926–28)
  • Jefferson Davis Adams (acting, 1928)
  • Charles Wright (1929–31)
  • James McFadden (1931–37)
  • Roy Merrill (1937–39)
  • Lon Jordan (1939–44)
  • Jewel Jordan (acting, 1944) – first and only woman to serve as Sheriff
  • Ernest W. "Goldie" Roach (1945–47)
  • Luther C. "Cal" Boies (1946–69)
  • John Mummert (1969–73)
  • Paul Blubaum (1973–77)
  • Jerry I. Hill (1977–85)
  • Richard Godbehere (1985–89)
  • Thomas J. Agnos (1989–93)
  • Joe Arpaio (1993–2017)
  • Paul Penzone (2017–)

Fallen officersEdit

Since the establishment of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, 17 officers have died in the line of duty.[8]

Officer End of Watch Details
Deputy Almon W. Dana
Sunday, April 9, 1922
Vehicle pursuit
Deputy Sheriff Lee Wright
Wednesday, January 29, 1930
Special Deputy Edward J. Roberts
Wednesday, July 21, 1937
Deputy Sheriff Burtice W. Wickstrum
Monday, January 8, 1951
Automobile accident
Deputy Gerald Barnes
Saturday, October 5, 1957
Aircraft accident
Lieutenant Robert L. Dorn
Tuesday, August 31, 1965
Deputy Warren LaRue
Monday, January 18, 1971
Deputy Rex Stone
Monday, January 18, 1971
Deputy Ralph K. Butler
Tuesday, June 13, 1972
Automobile accident
Reserve Deputy James L. Epp
Wednesday, March 1, 1978
Corporal Darrell Dean McCloud
Monday, May 13, 1985
Automobile accident
Deputy Vernon P. Marconnet
Thursday, June 30, 1988
Sergeant Patrick Joseph Riley
Friday, March 11, 1994
Struck by vehicle
Deputy Edwardo M. Gonzales
Monday, August 28, 1995
Vehicle pursuit
Deputy II Kenneth Ray Blair
Thursday, September 28, 1995
Deputy Sheriff Gary Frederick Labenz
Monday, October 10, 2005
Heart attack
Deputy Sheriff William Coleman
Sunday, January 8, 2012
Deputy Sheriff David William Wargo, Jr.
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Vehicular assault

Controversies and criticismEdit

The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office has been involved in many controversial acts, lawsuits, and other operations that have been called into question, from alleged racial profiling to jail conditions. Former Maricopa County Sheriff, Joe Arpaio, has also been criticized over a number of incidents and policies.

The United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division is investigating the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office in relation to alleged racism and abuse of power, as well as refusing to cooperate with a federal Justice Department investigation.[9]

Popular MediaEdit

Maricopa County Sheriff's Office is featured on TLC's television program Police Women of Maricopa County (2010).[10]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ [1] ""A Little Bit of History"". 2017-07-13.
  2. ^ [2] ""Mcso at a Glance"". 2017-07-13.
  3. ^ [3]
  4. ^ [4]
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ Markon, Jerry; McCrummen, Stephanie (2010-08-18). "U.S. may sue Arizona's Sheriff Arpaio for not cooperating in investigation". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2010-08-17.
  10. ^ "Police Women of Maricopa County". Discovery Communications, LLC. 2010-04-17. Archived from the original on 2010-02-28. Retrieved 2010-04-17.

External linksEdit