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Sheriff Arpaio Trial UPDATE: Deputies Testify for Defense

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Yesterday was Day 6 of the Melendres vs. Arpaio civil lawsuit under way in Phoenix probing into whether Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office are guilty of routinely engaging in racial profiling.

A post at Fronteras sums up how the trial has been going so far:

 So far the federal judge hearing the case has seemed more sympathetic to the plaintiff’s arguments. The judge has already ruled in their favor on one claim, sanctioned the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office for destroying documents and emails, and ordered the defendants to pay $90,000 in legal fees to the plaintiffs.

On Wednesday, Sheriff’s deputies responded to earlier testimonies of questionable traffic stops with their side of the story and denied that race is a factor during such traffic stops.

Bennie Click, a law enforcement expert who spent 29 years working with the Phoenix Police Department, testified that he found MCSO deputies well-trained in all areas of law enforcement, including how to conduct lawful traffic stops and arrests.  He claimed that their training “far exceeds” standards set for Arizona law enforcement.  As multiple deputies testified, all officers are briefed about racial profiling before suppression sweeps and understand that the main intent of those operations is not to arrest undocumented immigrants.  They claimed that offenses leading to arrest of large number of Latinos are “race neutral,” and that the high number of Latinos arrested makes sense because of the large Latino population in Arizona.

Still, there are shortcomings in MCSO’s approach to racial profiling and the law.  Though many deputies have said they undergo training regarding racial profiling, Arpaio testified that he has not–a fact that Rose Wilcox, a longtime political foe of Arpaio, called “very telling.”  Attorneys for the prosecution also pointed out that the Sheriff’s Office does not have a policy in place barring racial profiling, which in their opinion made the MCSO guidelines “below any standard.”

The trial is scheduled to wrap up today in Phoenix, and throughout it, one thing has been clear: whether you’re one of the DREAMers standing on the steps of the Maricopa County courthouse or a witness in the trial against Sheriff Joe, our movement is built on the courage and bravery of those willing to take a stand.  Please thank the brave people in Arizona who are taking a stand against racial profiling.