Joe Arpaio, the maverick sheriff of Arizona’s Maricopa County, has a reputation as “the toughest sheriff in America” — a well-earned reputation because of his tough-on-crime approach. Arpaio jails inmates in tents, dresses them in pink underwear, and strictly enforces the laws on illegal immigration which the federal government refuses to enforce. For that, last July a Mexico drug cartel offered a $1 million bounty for Arpaio’s head.
It is because of his tough reputation as a law enforcer that a Tea Party group, frustrated by judge after judge throwing out lawsuits that challenged Obama’s eligibility, turned to Sheriff Arpaio for help. On August 18, 2011, they met with Arpaio to ask him to investigate the authenticity of Obama’s birth certificate, an image of which Skippy had disclosed with great fanfare on April 27, so as to determine his eligibility for Maricopa Ccounty’s 2012 election ballot. As his county’s chief law enforcement officer, Arpaio is obliged to investigate.
In late October, Arpaio said his Cold Case Posse would deliver “surprises” in their eligibility investigation, and that the investigation was extending to the possibility that Obama is using a fraudulent Social Security number. Sources close to the investigation say the posse has decided it needs to see Skippy’s original birth records — not an electronic file, an online image, or scanned copies — before it can conclude whether Obama should be eligible for the presidential ballot in 2012.
I was wondering when Obama would set loose his attack dogs on the sheriff.
Sure enough, in early November came news that Arpaio had received death threats for his eligibility investigation. Undeterred, Arpaio told WorldNetDaily that “Getting death threats is nothing new for me” — the Mexico drug cartel having offered a bounty for his head — but he was puzzled by the major media’s virtual silence about his decision to investigate Obama’s eligibility to run for re-election. He pointed out that “usually the media is all over me, but when I decided to investigate Obama, the media has suddenly gone missing in action.”
Now Eric Holder, Obama’s Heinrich Himmler, is siccing his Department of Justice (DOJ) attack-dogs on the sheriff — the same Eric Holder and the Department of Justice that refused to prosecute the New Black Panthers for their voter intimidation at a Philadelphia polling place in 2008.
Fox News reports that yesterday, Dec. 15, 2011, the DOJ released a report of its 3-year investigation of Arpaio’s Maricopa County office. The report alleges that Arpaio and his office have carried out a blatant pattern of discrimination against Latinos. The DOJ report claims:
- Arpaio’s office, MCSO (Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office), has committed a wide range of civil rights violations against Latinos, including a pattern of racial profiling and discrimination and carrying out heavy-handed immigration patrols, known as “sweeps,” based on racially charged citizen complaints — that Latinos were merely gathering near a business without committing crimes.
- Arpaio and his MCSO have no clear policies to guard against the civil rights violations, even after he changed some of his top aides earlier this year. Thomas Perez, who heads the DOJ’s civil rights division, wrote: “Arpaio’s own actions have helped nurture MCSO’s culture of bias. MCSO is broken in a number of critical respects. The problems are deeply rooted in MCSO’s culture.”
- Arpaio and some top staffers tried to silence people who have spoken out against the sheriff’s office by arresting people without cause, filing meritless lawsuits against opponents and starting investigations of critics.
- Arpaio’s office treated Latinos as if they are all in the country illegally, resulting in Latinos being 4 to 9 times more likely to be stopped in traffic stops in Maricopa County than non-Latinos, as well as arrested without good cause. Deputies are encouraged to make high-volume traffic stops in targeted locations. There were Latinos who were in the U.S. legally who were arrested or detained without cause during the sweeps, according to the report.
- During the sweeps, deputies flood an area of a city — in some cases, heavily Latino areas — over several days to seek out traffic violators and arrest other offenders. Illegal immigrants accounted for 57% of the 1,500 people arrested in the 20 sweeps conducted by Arpaio’s office since January 2008.
- Police supervisors, including at least one smuggling-squad supervisor, often used county accounts to send emails that demeaned Latinos to fellow sheriff’s managers, deputies and volunteers in the sheriff’s posse. One such email had a photo of a mock driver’s license for a fictional state called “Mexifornia.”
- Arpaio’s jails display a pattern of language-based racial discrimination against Latinos:
- Latino inmates with limited English skills were punished for failing to understand commands in English by being put in solitary confinement for up to 23 hours a day or keeping prisoners locked down in their jail pods for as long as 72 hours without a trip to the canteen area or making nonlegal phone calls.
- Some jail officers used racial slurs for Latinos when talking among themselves and speaking to inmates.
- Detention officers refused to accept forms requesting basic daily services and reporting mistreatment when the documents were completed in Spanish and pressured Latinos with limited English skills to sign forms that implicate their legal rights without language assistance.
- The agency pressures Latinos with limited English skills to sign forms by yelling at them and keeping them in uncomfortably cold cells for long periods of time.
Perez, the DOJ’s expert on racial profiling, calls Arpaio’s office the most egregious case of racial profiling in the nation that he has seen. He claims that federal investigators had interviewed more than 400 people, including Arpaio, reviewed thousands of documents and toured county jails as part of its probe.
The DOJ report requires Arpaio to set up effective policies against discrimination, improve training and make other changes that would be monitored for compliance by a judge. Arpaio faces a Jan. 4 deadline for saying whether he wants to work out an agreement. If not, the federal government will sue him and let a judge decide the complaint.
If the sheriff’s office doesn’t turn around its policies and practices, the federal government could pull millions of dollars of federal funding.
Apart from the DOJ civil rights probe, a federal grand jury also has been investigating Arpaio’s office on criminal abuse-of-power allegations since at least December 2009 and is specifically examining the investigative work of the sheriff’s anti-public corruption squad.
Meanwhile, the DOJ vows they will continue their investigation of Sheriff Arpaio in other areas as well: complaints of excessive force against Latinos; botched sex-crimes cases; immigration efforts “that have hurt the agency’s trust with the Hispanic community”; whether the sheriff’s office has limited the willingness of witnesses and victims to report crimes or talk to Arpaio’s office.
For his part, Arpaio has long denied the racial profiling allegation, saying people are stopped if deputies have probable cause to believe they have committed crimes and that deputies later find many of them are illegal immigrants.
Congressman Steve King (R-Iowa) is defending Sheriff Joe against Justice Department charges. More Republicans should come forth to support Arpaio. It’s time to circle the wagons!