The U.S. Department of Justice Thursday morning accused the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office of engaging in a pattern or practice of unconstitutional policing, including racial profiling in traffic stops, immigration operations and discriminating against Spanish speakers in the county jails.
In a 22-page letter addressed to Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery the DOJ issued an ultimatum: come to a voluntary
court-enforceable agreement to stop the unconstitutional practices, or
face a lawsuit under provisions of federal Civil Rights Act.
According to the DOJ letter sent to Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office the investigation found the following civil rights violations, as reported by the Arizona Republic:
- Hispanics were routinely targeted for traffic stops without reasonable
cause, and subsequently charged with immigration-related crimes. Legal
residents were sometimes treated as if they were illegal immigrants and
inmates with poor or no English proficiency were frequently punished
for not understanding English, were required to fill out forms in a
language they did not understand or were denied critical services
available to English-speaking inmates.
activists and critics who spoke out against the Sheriff’s Office’s
treatment of Hispanics were themselves targeted for retaliation.
Justice Department also found that the Sheriff’s Office did not
adequately train or supervise its personnel to avoid civil rights
violations and, in fact, permitted the specialized units to engage in
Julianne Hing, Colorlines.com’s immigration reporter says the news doesn’t come as a surprise.
“For folks who are at all familiar with Sheriff Arpaio’s nasty tactics,
none of the DOJ’s revelations are actually brand new,” Hing said about the DOJ findings.
“He engages in
racial profiling, condones excessive force from his officers, and
retaliates harshly against anyone who speaks out against him,” Hing went on to say. “He ignores
actual, serious crime to hunt down undocumented immigrants. This is his
brand. His anti-immigrant rhetoric is not just bravado; he will do just
about anything for the cameras.”
Hing went on to add the federal government has enabled Arpaio’s actions.
“The federal government contracted
Arpaio, with programs like 287(g) to use his police officers to enforce
immigraiton law. Now they’re chasing after him to reign him in.”
Below you’ll find the DOJ letter sent to Maricopa County with details of their investigation.