The federal Department of Justice has released the findings this morning of a lengthy civil rights investigation into the practices of Arizona's Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, led by the famously controversial Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
For years, Arpaio has prided himself on his tough-on-illegal immigration stance and regular sweeps. Now, following an inquiry that began in 2008, the federal government is charging that Arpaio and his staff have systematically engaged in "unconstitutional policing." A letter from the DOJ to Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery details the findings, summarized here:
"Based upon our extensive investigation, we find reasonable cause that MCSO engages in a pattern or practice of unconstitutional policing. Specifically, we find that MCSO, through the actions of its deputies, supervisory staff, and command staff, engages in racial profiling of Latinos; unlawfully stops, detains, and arrests Latinos; and unlawfully retaliates against individuals who complain about or criticize MCSO's policies or practices, all in violation of Section 14141."
Arpaio's operation is characterized as having "a chronic culture of disregard for basic legal and constitutional obligations." The entire 22-page findings letter can be viewed below.