Sheriff Joe Arpaio recently faced withering criticism for ignoring over 400 cases of sex crimes against mostly Latino children. Last week, the US Department of Justice released a scathing report after a lengthy investigation into the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office (MCSO). It concluded that Arpaio has overseen the worst pattern of racial profiling by law enforcement in US history. Ponder if you will the implications of that. DoJ is saying MCSO is more racist and biased than any police agency in the south in the 1950's, an astonishing statement, yet possibly quite accurate.
The government says Arpaio engaged in "unconstitutional policing" with "a pervasive culture of discriminatory bias against Latinos" reaching "the highest levels of the agency." Further, Arpaio stonewalled and interfered with the inquiry until a lawsuit forced him to comply. He has until Jan. 4 to enter into a court-approved settlement or face another lawsuit with the department potentially losing millions in federal money. Characteristically, Arpaio has blamed everyone and everything except himself and his department. But he has no choice. He will either accept the terms of the agreement or the feds will take over MCSO like they did the Los Angeles Police Department after the Rampart scandal.
Just hours after the report was released, Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano ended one agreement with MCSO and blocked it from another program. It can no longer question inmates about immigration status or have access to shared information. DHS is pointblank saying that they no longer trust MCSO to be fair or competent. The report says that not only is MCSO blatantly racist, but it is also "second-rate."
Among MCSO's alleged examples of racism and vindictiveness against critics, the DoJ found:
- MCSO raids homes based on complaints of "dark skin" people being there even though there are no reports of criminal activity.
- Latinos have their homes searched without cause and sometimes are held for days on bogus charges.
- Jail guards put non-English speaking inmates in solitary and ignore their requests saying they have to speak in English.
- Latino drivers are much more likely to be stopped than non-Latinos.
- 20% of traffic stops of Latinos during immigration sweeps violate 4th Amendment restrictions against unreasonable search and seizure.
- A Latino got $600,000 in a lawsuit after a sheriff deliberately rammed him with his patrol car.
- Arpaio frequently arrests and harasses critics using baseless and unfounded charges.
"Those actions were very much like the actions of a Third World dictator. If not for the federal government ... this county would be run like a fiefdom," says an aide to former US Attorney for Arizona Paul Charlton, referring to the harassment and arrests of those who criticize Arpaio.
In my view, the fiefdom needs to end. Sheriff Joe must go.