Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is no stranger to criticism and controversy. Arpaio proudly regards himself as “America's Toughest Sheriff,” and has faced criticism not only for his use of prison camps in housing inmates, but also for his treatment of immigrants. In the latest official backlash against Sheriff Joe, a U.S. federal judge has ordered Arpaio to undergo racial profiling training.
In court last week, U.S. District Court Judge Murray Snow has ordered Sheriff Joe Arpaio to submit to the same training as his deputies, for the purpose of preventing law enforcements' use of racial profiling. Arpaio did not attend the hearing, but has regularly denied racial profiling, and will be appealing the decision.
In 2013, Judge Snow ruled that Arpaio had violated individuals' rights during his immigration sweeps. The ruling came after a class-action lawsuit filed by Latino drivers arguing they were pulled over based on their ethnicity. Arpaio later told a reporter that he had no problem conducting such sweeps, even though he had been ordered to stop using race as a factor in such law enforcement activities.
Judge Snow also ordered a court-mandated monitor to oversee Sheriff Arpaio and his office. The monitor was to review official policies and procedures, and make sure they are carried out in a race-neutral manner. All traffic stops are to include audio and video recording, and employees are required to undergo additional training. To date, the monitor has said the investigation by officials of the sheriff's department was severely lacking.
The order comes among a series of rulings against Sheriff Arpaio and Arizona''s law enforcement treatment of immigrants. Earlier this month, Federal judges ruled Arizona's 2006 law denying bail to some illegal immigrants was illegal. The case was filed against Joe Arpaio's Maricopa County Sheriff's Department.
Another District Court judge will soon issue a decision on whether Sheriff Joe Arpaio will be prevented from conducting his workplace raids. A motion for an injunction and lawsuit were filed arguing Arpaio is using his office to target undocumented immigrants. The suit has been filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, and immigrant advocacy group Puente on behalf of a number of plaintiffs.
Being tough on immigration is not all that Arpaio's office is being accused of. One of Arpaio's deputies, Charley Armendariz had been suspected of shaking down immigrants for cash. The now-dead deputy, who is suspected of hanging himself after this news arose, was not disciplined for as many as 14 citizen complaints and violations including taking his police vehicle to a bar where he was seen drinking alcohol.
In a report by the court-appointed monitor Robert Warshaw, Armendariz allegedly implicated colleagues who were also part of Arpaio's immigrant-smuggling squad after they had reportedly taken property belonging to other individuals, and had bags of evidence at home. Armendariz allegedly had more than 150 driver's licenses and over 100 license plates, among other evidence in his home. Complaints of missing cash have been reported both by U.S. citizens as well as immigrants.