As Phoenix-area pandemic eviction moratoriums ends, a sheriff’s constable balances empathy, enforcement – The Washington Post

PHOENIX — The city’s last eviction moratorium of the pandemic had expired and the rent forgiveness program was running out of money, so Lennie McCloskey changed into his bulletproof vest and headed out to work. He climbed into his truck and counted through his daily stack of eviction orders. “Fifteen, sixteen — jeez Louise,” he said as he stacked them on the passenger seat. He strapped an extra magazine of ammunition to his belt and picked up his radio to call dispatch.

Nobody in Phoenix was better or more practiced at the business of eviction than Lennie, who had personally removed more than 20,000 Arizonans from their homes during the past two decades as the area’s longest-serving elected constable. “Lock-’em-out Lennie,” colleagues occasionally called him, because the 65-year-old former judo champion was capable of coaxing tenants out of their homes with subtle intimidation or with grandfatherly kindness. He arrived at each apartment with treats to pacify dogs and stickers to give children. The tenants he ushered outside each day into their first moments of homelessness were often inconsolable, or defiant, or suicidal, or mentally ill, or violent and aggressive, but Lennie was calm. “You have to take your own emotions out of it,” he’d told colleagues during one national training. “It’s our job to carry out the court order.”

But, much more often, he had encountered renters who were newly jobless, working from home, grieving, terrified of the virus, or already sick as they exhausted their savings to pay what little they could.

As Phoenix-area pandemic eviction moratoriums ends, a sheriff’s constable balances empathy, enforcement – The Washington Post