Yesterday was the deadline for Maricopa Sheriff Joe Arpaio to indicate whether he would cooperate with the United States Department of Justice. On December 15 2010, DOJ released the findings of a three-year study of racial discrimination in Arpaio’s department, which found evidence of what we’ve long known. Arpaio has “engage[d] in a pattern or practice of unconstitutional policing” and “a chronic culture of disregard for basic legal and constitutional obligations.”
Well, Arpaio did respond — in typical Sheriff Joe fashion with some bravado and attitude:
It was a pledge for cooperation with a dose of confrontation when Sheriff Joe Arpaio told the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division that he would cooperate with the federal government’s efforts to resolve allegations of widespread discrimination in the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office.
Arpaio’s promise Wednesday to cooperate came with a detailed 29-page request for more than 100 pieces of information that U.S. Department of Justice investigators compiled during the years-long probe of the Sheriff’s Office, including the identity of sheriff’s employees interviewed during the course of the investigation and the names of Latino residents against whom Arpaio’s deputies have allegedly discriminated.
The Phoenix News Times Blog has more, noting Arpaio’s continued “whining” — and a prediction that this will end up in court:
A defiant sheriff, however, also says he “will not cower to the threat of litigation” — the DOJ says it plans to take the sheriff to court if he fails to cooperate.
Arpaio says his cooperation is contingent on the fed’s ability to “play ball” — he’s demanded the DOJ produce evidence of all the allegations it’s made against the MCSO before the sheriff will consider cooperating. He’s given the DOJ until January 18 to cough up the proof.
From the sound of the sheriff’s letter — which includes more whining about the DOJ’s “political witch hunt,” and griping about the timing of the announcement of the fed’s report — it seems like Arpaio and the feds are destined to find themselves in a courtroom, which will cost taxpayers even more community coin defending America’s priciest sheriff.
We’ll continue to watch how this plays out. Arpaio can talk tough and be defiant, but he may have finally met his match in Tom Perez and the US Department of Justice.