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Federal Judge Orders Sheriff Joe Arpaio Must Have Court-Appointed Monitor for No Less than 3 Years

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Last summer, we wrote extensively about a civil lawsuit against Arizona’s Sheriff Joe Arpaio that could finally make him answer for years of racial profiling and police-power abuse.  Now the Sheriff’s day of reckoning is coming, after a ruling from US District Judge Murray Snow (and months of negotiations) decided that Arpaio’s office must submit to a court-appointed monitor to ensure that Arpaio’s discriminatory habits are addressed.

In May, Judge Snow found that Arpaio and his Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) do in fact engage in discrimination and racial profiling when they carry out their immigration enforcement tactics, and as a result must work closely with a court-appointed monitor and plaintiffs from the case to change those practices.  The Sheriff’s Office will have to demonstrate compliance for three consecutive years before being freed from oversight.

As Lydia Guzman of Somos America said today in a statement:

Thanks to the brave souls who came forward to tell their stories, the MCSO is being held accountable.  It’s not a crime to be brown and now we have the necessary tools to make sure that Sheriff Arpaio doesn’t forget that.

Among the things Judge Snow ruled must happen for the Sheriff’s Office to demonstrate compliance (according to the Arizona Republic):

  • Create an “implementation” unit serving as a liaison between the ACLU, the court-appointed monitor, and the Sheriff’s Office
  • Hire a bilingual deputy to serve as community liaison officer
  • Create a six-member advisory board (with representatives from the Sheriff’s Office and the ACLU) to meet at least three times a year to ensure dialogue between MCSO and community leaders
  • Within 30 days of operations targeting immigrants or involving a large number of deputies, hold a community-outreach meeting identifying the objectives and results of the operations
  • If the operations specifically target immigrants, notify the court-appointed monitor and the ACLU within 24 hours unless the notification would jeopardize an ongoing criminal investigation
  • Other points about training, data collection, and supervisory oversight of deputies

Arpaio’s lawyers may yet appeal Snow’s ruling.

In the meantime, the court’s rebuke of Arpaio is significant in relation to the SAFE Act, an anti-immigrant bill that House Republicans may consider this fall.  The SAFE Act (more appropriately called the “unSAFE Act”) would criminalize all undocumented immigrants and make racial profiling easier, thereby spreading across the nation policies practiced by Arpaio but rejected by the law.