Sheriff Joe Arpaio says his goodbyes at Cave Creek retirement party

Posted at 8:49 PM, Dec 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-18 11:28:28-05

There was a packed house at the Buffalo Chip Saloon Saturday night as family, friends, employees and supporters flooded the doors to say goodbye and bid a happy retirement to “America’s Toughest Sheriff,” Joe Arpaio.

"I'm going to miss Joe's sense of humor," said Jody Special, a Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office employee. “I'm lucky enough to see him every day, it's going to be different."

Arpaio’s departure from the sheriff’s office will be an adjustment for those who know him best.

"He's a fun guy, and people don't always see it, but he's real fun-loving and cares about the people," said MCSO employee Brandi Campbell.

Many notable Arizonans attended Saturday night’s party, including Gov. Doug Ducey.

"This is a guy that's a legend and has a personality that's bigger than life. He will be remembered for a lot of things. Pink underwear, tent city, but I hope most of all they remember he committed himself to public service." Ducey said.

But the night was bittersweet for the man who served as sheriff for 24 years.

"It's a little sad. I hold my head up high, but that's the way it is. I go out holding my head high," Arpaio said.

No stranger to controversy, Arpaio knows both sides will have different memories of him. But he hopes they all know one thing.

"I hope they remember me as the guy who worked hard trying to protect the people," Arpaio said.

One person who is excited about the sheriff's retirement is his wife, Ava Arpaio.

"The government and the county has had him for the 59 years we have been married. Now, it's my turn. I'm going to have him and I'm going to put him to work and let him do some of the things I do," Ava Arpaio said.