Sheriff Joe Arpaio speaks to members of the media during a visit to the Rancho Bernardo Inn on August 10, 2010 in Rancho Bernardo, California.
America’s toughest sheriff is finding himself in some hot water. An investigation, lasting over three years, by the Justice Department is accusing Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio of creating a culture of discriminatory policing against Latinos.
According to the report, Latino drivers were four to nine times more likely to be stopped than their non-Latino counterparts in and around Phoenix. The report also found mistreatment, of Latino inmates who do not speak English in Maricopa County jails. In addition to findings of mistreatment the Fourth Amendment may have been violated in up to a fifth of traffic-related incidents reported by the department’s human smuggling unit.
Arpaio shrugged off the criticism as politically motivated during a news conference on Thursday. He criticized Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano for revoking his department’s access to a database of identifying undocumented immigrants. He suggested the actions of the federal government would be a welcome sign for illegal immigrants.
“This is a sad day for America as a whole,” Sheriff Arpaio said, “we are proud of the work we have done to fight illegal immigration.”
There is a separate federal grand jury investigation of Sheriff Arpaio’s office that is focused on accusations of abuse of power by the department’s public corruption squad.
Kris Kobach, secretary of state, Kansas; represented Maricopa County in past immigration cases; national expert constitutional law, Immigration Reform Law Institute
Ira Mehlman, National Media Director and Spokesperson, Federation for American Immigration Reform
Victoria Lopez, attorney, ACLU of Arizona
Thomas A. Saenz, President, General Counsel, MALDEF, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund