OPINION: Sheriff Paul Penzone’s statement regarding MCSO officer-inmate altercation

Acts of violence within a jail come in many forms.  In order to mitigate situations that may arise in the jails, and to minimize injury to any party and preserve lives, my administration recognized the need to ensure that specialized training is readily available to detention staff called upon to intervene in certain circumstances.  Therefore, after I assumed office, I reinstated the MCSO Special Response Team.  SRT, and all of MCSO, is focused on identifying and implementing best practices to reduce the danger to detainees and staff when unforeseen and dangerous situations arise.  My priority is to ensure the safety of my detention officers and those in custody.

The incident involving Mr. Ramos occurred before I assumed office and was one factor that directly influenced my decision to reinstate the SRT.  This is but one visual example of the extreme dangers detention officers face every day.  Mr. Ramos has an extensive history of dangerous and assaultive behaviors.  He has been incarcerated in the county jail as well as the Arizona Department of Corrections.  While in MCSO custody, he has received several citations for illegal use of jail-made alcohol.  On the date of this incident, detention staff found 10 bottles of jail-made alcohol; nine of those bottles were empty.

My office responded by evaluating this incident with a timely and thorough investigation.  We worked closely with the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office to ensure that our personnel are abiding by all rules and laws.  After a thorough review of this incident, the county attorney’s office determined that there was no criminal liability on the part of either the office, or the officers involved in the incident with Mr. Ramos.

In addition to the county attorney’s review of this incident, an administrative investigation was conducted; it concluded with an appropriate response to those involved in the incident to stress the importance of sound judgment in all circumstances.

Sheriff Paul Penzone
Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office

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