The U.S. Justice Department filed a federal lawsuit against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, his office and the county on Thursday, reports the Fronteras Desk.
The suit accuses Arpaio and the sheriff’s office of discriminatory and unconstitutional law enforcement practices.
DOJ said this is only the second time in its 18 years of civil police reform work that it has had to file a contested lawsuit. Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Tom Perez says all of the allegations in the complaint result from a culture of disregard for basic human rights within the agency -- and he says that starts at the top.
“At its core, this is an abuse of power case, involving a sheriff and a sheriff’s office that disregarded the Constitution, ignored sound police practices, compromised public safety and did not hesitate to retaliate against perceived critics,” Perez said.
Perez said he still hopes to reach a settlement with Arpaio’s office. Any agreement, though, would require Arpaio to allow an independent monitor in his office. He has so far refused to do that.
Arpaio will respond to the lawsuit in a press conference Thursday afternoon.
Check back at the Fronteras Project website for additional updates on this story.