Sheriff Penzone blasts proposed cuts to MCSO funding

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Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone blasted a proposal to strip away $1.6 million away from his office. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone blasted a proposal to strip away $1.6 million away from his office. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone criticized Republican state lawmakers on Thursday for proposing to take away $1.6 million away from the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office in the state budget.

During a news conference, he called the move partisan hit and that it was more about party politics than public safety.

Penzone, a Democrat, defeated longtime Republican Sheriff Joe Arpaio back in November.

Since he has taken office, he has had a softer approach to immigration compared to Arpaio, the so-call "America's Toughest Sheriff."

Some GOP lawmakers suggested that is why they stripped the $1.6 million.

[READ MORE: GOP lawmaker: Budget cuts send a message to Democratic sheriff]

But Penzone said it will have a serious impact on his law enforcement operations.

"This doesn't affect me. It affects the men and women who do the job," Penzone said.

[RELATED: Arizona House has votes for budget, Senate short]

Gov. Doug Ducey wants to take away the cash from the Gang and Immigration Enforcement Task Force. He said the money will still be used for public safety but it'll go toward clearing the backlog of untested rape kits in Pima County.

Penzone said the cuts will impact drug enforcement and gang enforcement intelligence. He said it will affect how deputies fight the high drug-trafficking area along Interstate 8 in the county.

Penzone is also upset because he said the funding cut was put in the bill at "the 11th hour" and said none of the law enforcement leaders were consulted.

[RELATED: Public gets 1 day to weigh in on Arizona budget]

"If this community is to be safe, and our law enforcement partners who all work collectively are to be effective in our efforts, we must have a voice at the table," Penzone said. "And these types of actions should not take me until we are heard and we can express how it impacts the men and women who do the job."

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