On August 30th, 2013 Federal Judge Murray Snow announced in a court hearing that he will appoint a Federal monitor to oversee Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department. Maricopa County, located in Arizona, is the home of the infamous Sherriff Joe Arpaio. Arpaio’s office has been the subject of ongoing state and federal civil rights law suits. The most recent hearing was part of an on-going class action lawsuit against the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office and Sheriff Arpaio. In earlier hearings Judge Snow ruled that Arpaio’s office had violated the civil rights of Arizona’s Latino population, by instituting policies which led to widespread targeting of citizens based on racial profiling.
Needless to say, Sheriff Arpaio vehemently opposes such Federal oversight of his office. He claims that the appointment of a monitor will undermine his ability to do his duty as an elected official in the state of Arizona. Arpaio was ordered into negotiations with the victim’s of Maricopa County law enforcement’s racial profiling. Attorney’s on both sides of the dispute say that the negotiations have not been able to produce a mutually desired resolution.
The Sheriff’s Office is also the defendant in civil rights suit filed by the United States Department of Justice. The DOJ’s complaint alleges that as a matter of policy, Arpaio and law enforcement agents under his supervision engaged in systematic profiling and targeting of Latino citizens. The suit demonstrates falsification of records by police in some cases, and in many others a lack of any records whatsoever to explain why citizens were stopped, arrested or detained by Maricopa County law enforcement. It further states that Arpaio’s employees and volunteers engaged in retaliatory acts against those who spoke out about the treatment of Latino’s by the MCSO.
Court documents filed by attorney’s from the Department of Justice cite pages of evidence of physical abuse, purposeful humiliation and unlawful detainment carried out by the Sheriff’s agents, against the Latino population. For example, the documents cite the case of a pregnant woman who was repeatedly slammed against a vehicle (stomach first) by law enforcement offices. A second describes how a father and his twelve-year-old son who were zip tied and forced to sit by the side of the road for an hour. Each of these targeted individuals were law-abiding citizens of the United States.
The appointment of a Federal Monitor will ensure that Maricopa County law enforcement personnel comply with United States law. Part of the monitor’s duties will be to oversee the training of law enforcement in regards to civil and constitutional rights. Following the August 30th court hearing, Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox told the Associated Press that she wasn’t surprised by the Sheriff’s unwillingness to allow a federal monitor to oversee policy changes.
“The remedies are coming, like it or not.”
“Without a monitor, who can trust the agreements are being met?”