PHOENIX — He is a man who spent almost four decades of his life working at the Maricopa County Sheriff’s office. From a reserve deputy to second in command under ex-sheriff Joe Arpaio.
Jerry Sheridan now wants to come out of retirement, and toss his hat in the ring to run for Sheriff.
"The reason I'm running for Sheriff is because of the phone calls, text messages, and personal messages from hundreds of people," said Sheridan.
He showed ABC15 some of those personal messages written to him from current staffers of the Maricopa County Sheriff's department, stating they needed a leader like him in place, and would support him if he ran for Sheriff.
From patrol to corporal, then chief over patrol, and the man who was in charge of running the county jail, over his almost 40 year career Sheridan said he wore many hats in the department.
Sheridan tells ABC15 his biggest achievements at the sheriff's office were overseeing the construction and hiring of two new jails, now known as the Fourth Avenue jail and the Lower Buckeye Jail.
He was also appointed by several governors to serve on the Arizona post board.
While he called his career rewarding, Sheridan said the last six years of his time at MCSO were the toughest.
"Those last six years of my career as chief deputy was probably the most difficult time of my career and life," said Sheridan. "It was because of the constant barrage of lawsuits that I inherited," he added.
From federal department of justice probes to federal lawsuits accusing the department of racial profiling, discrimination against Latinos, and civil rights violations, Sheridan said he was sucked into the legal troubles of the department, thanks to the actions of others.
He was ex-sheriff Joe Arpaio's right hand man when the lawsuit filed by Ortega Melendres played out in federal court.
The lawsuit charged that Sheriff Joe Arpaio and MCSO had unlawfully instituted a pattern and practice of targeting Latino drivers and passengers in Maricopa county for traffic stops, investigations, and arrests based on their race and ethnicity.
Jerry Sheridan tells ABC15, Arpaio had assigned another aide in the sheriff's office to assist him with the case, so he did not have much knowledge of what was going on, and when the order from a federal judge came down ordering MCSO to stop these immigration patrols, Sheridan to this day says he did not open an email instructing him about these orders.
Sheridan was found in contempt of court for violating the judge's orders.
"I was held in contempt of court because of things that the judge , he didn't believe my testimony, and that has caused me a lot of grief over the years, to this day," said Sheridan.
He stressed he had not been untruthful in court.
"I was never untruthful ever, and I'm not incompetent. I never lied, I don't even lie to my wife," he insisted.
Sheridan added that while the Melendres lawsuit was playing out, as a Chief deputy he was handling everything from audits to the death of a deputy.
ABC15 asked Sheridan what his relationship was like with Joe Arpaio today.
Sheridan acknowledged they shared a strained relationship. Sheridan said Arpaio had initially endorsed him for sheriff, but a few weeks later changed course and announced his own candidacy for the law enforcement post.
"In February of 2019 I went to him and said I'm running for Sheriff and he said great. You're going to be great. You did a good job for me, I'll help you raise money and support you in any way that I can," said Sheridan.
"I was very disappointed. Through thick and thin as his chief deputy I stood right next to him. I stayed very loyal. By running he creates a problem for me because donors that would give to me are not giving to either one of us now," said Sheridan.
ABC15 asked Sheridan if he thought his former boss, ex-sheriff Joe had been a good sheriff.
"Sheriff Arpaio was a great sheriff for a long time. When he became "Sheriff Joe", it became difficult as time went on, because in my opinion he forgot about being the sheriff. He was more concerned with being the celebrity Joe Arpaio, and at that point the weight of the world began to fall on my shoulders," said Sheridan.
So how does Sheridan feel about running against his former boss for the job of Sheriff?
"I feel bad because I'm confident I will beat him in the primary," said Sheridan.
Of his almost 40 years working in Maricopa county, Sheridan said he spent 33 of those in a leadership role, and 22 of those in an executive command role.
ABC15 asked Sheridan if he agreed with controversial policies implemented by Arpaio, such as the police patrols in migrant-heavy neighborhoods.
"What I will do is work with ICE for criminal illegal aliens," said Sheridan. "I've never done anything in my career ever, I've never taken an extra punch, I've never arrested anybody that didn't have it coming, I didn't care what the color of his skin was," said Sheridan.
He added that he did not support Arpaio's policy of pink underwear for inmates. As for tent city, ABC15 asked him if he would try to resurrect a tent city for overflow inmates?
"I would do something similar. I have an idea but I am not going to tell you right now, because I don't want somebody stealing it," said Sheridan.
ABC15 asked Sheridan how he would respond to criticism from harsh critics of the Arpaio administration, who considered the department racist.
1048:38 (teary) thanking God for my family and everything I have in my life
10:49:30 I've never done anything in my career ever.. I've never taken an extra punch.. I've never arrested anybody that didn't have it coming I didn't care what color their skin was
Sheridan plans to run a grassroots campaign. His campaign finance reports showed about $50,000 to Arpaio's millions, but Sheridan said he was not worried about it as money was coming in everyday.
"It's not just about money because Arpaio raised well over $10 million in 2016, and the current guy in office beat him by about 130,000 votes," said Sheridan.
ABC15 reached out to ex-sheriff Joe Arpaio's campaign for a comment.
They sent us this statement:
"During Joe Arpaio’s 24-year tenure as Sheriff of Maricopa County, he had several Chief Deputies serve under him. If Jerry Sheridan disagreed with any of Sheriff Arpaio’s policies this is the first time he’s hearing of it. In fact, just a few years ago Sheridan publicly defended Arpaio’s policies in an Op-Ed that appeared in the Arizona Republic.
As for the campaign, Sheriff Arpaio never endorsed Jerry Sheridan for Sheriff or any other office because Sheridan never asked for an endorsement."