Jerry Sheridan arrived in Fountain Hills in 1976 at age 18 when his parents retired to the community. Being raised the son of a New York City Police officer, Sheridan said he took an immediate interest in what was available in the field for the new community. In 1977 he signed on with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office as a reserve and served 40 years before leaving in 2016. Sheridan has kept his family roots in Fountain Hills since arriving.
Sheridan said he is not happy with the way things went leading to his departure from the Sheriff’s Office where he was chief deputy at the time. He said he is dedicated to the agency and wants to return. He is running for the Republican nomination for Maricopa County Sheriff in the August primary election. He is facing his former boss, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, for the GOP nomination and the opportunity to challenge incumbent Democrat Sheriff Paul Penzone.
Current headlines provide a backdrop for Sheridan to talk about law enforcement and the issues currently faced by leadership and cops on the street.
“There is a severe lack of leadership in law enforcement today,” Sheridan said. “That is what the (street cop) is feeling when they see the negative reaction across the country when they hear about defunding it affects everyone in uniform.
“Without them there would be complete chaos, the problem is they are the most visible part of government and the frustrations of people are taken out on them.
“It has never been this bad and they take it very personally, they got into (law enforcement) to help people, they never started out with the idea to harm anyone. No one wants to shoot and kill someone; it is a very emotional thing.”
Sheridan said that when he was MCSO chief deputy in 2014 he instituted the “Blue Courage” educational program. It teaches officers about racial bias and how to be sensitive to other cultures and sexual orientation.
The Blue Courage website describes it as “A philosophy that inspires one to embody the noblest of character and unquestioned devotion.”
“It is a format deputies will listen to and understand,” Sheridan said. “Don’t call it reform, they won’t listen.”
Sheridan said the program was never fully implemented with MCSO due to the court challenges against the agency and Sheriff Arpaio for targeting immigrants and other minorities. There was a refocus on training due to the court orders. He said he will fully implement the program once he is elected Sheriff.
“It is important for (deputies) to know that leadership has their back,” Sheridan said. “The most important thing is to do the right thing when no one is watching.”
Sheridan said he took his oath to support and defend the Constitution and citizens do have the right to protest and petition against grievance.
“The minute someone throws a rock or causes damage it becomes an unlawful assembly,” Sheridan said. “You give them the opportunity to disperse on their own and if they don’t do it themselves law enforcement does it in an expeditious manner.”
He said he would use a method of dispersing crowds that is used overseas, but not widely in the United States. He would not elaborate, but said it is safe and efficient.
“Where has our Sheriff been during these violent times,” Sheridan asked.
As for the COVID-19 orders, Sheridan is on the side of citizen rights.
“The governor, boards of supervisors, mayors don’t have the ability to order people to shut down businesses or wear a mask,” Sheridan said. “I will not have deputies enforce an unconstitutional order. People need to take personal responsibility; you can’t have government tell them what to do.”
Sheridan said his hometown is close to him.
“I’ve been keeping the people of Fountain Hills safe my entire career,” he said. “Contract towns are a priority for me. The current Sheriff doesn’t understand contract policing.”