Thursday, December 15, 2011
Law Enforcement group responds to report on Sheriff Joe Arpaio
On Behalf of Police Who Care About Community Safety, Law Enforcement Engagement Initiative
Commends DOJ For Taking Arpaio To Task
Sheriff Joe’s Tactics May Have Been Headline Grabbing, But His Tactics Have Cause Serious Harm to Community Policing
Today, the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division released the long-awaited results of its investigation into Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and officially confirmed what community-policing advocates have known for years: Arpaio could not be any farther from being a good role model for local or federal law enforcement, especially when it comes to immigration.
The report confirms that tactics like Arpaio’s are rooted in racial profiling: “Since roughly 2007, in the course of establishing its immigration enforcement program, MCSO has implemented practices that treat Latinos as if they are all undocumented, regardless of whether a legitimate factual basis exists to suspect that a person is undocumented” (page 6); that they damage law enforcement’s relationship with all Latinos in the community: a “wall of distrust between MCSO officers and Maricopa County Latino residents” (page 2); and that they have made it harder for law enforcement officers to fight crime, as expressed by the MCSO deputy who “bemoaned the impact of MCSO’s immigration-related operations, stressing that they ‘affect our ability to work in a community that hates you’” (page 16).
According to Arturo Venegas, founder and Project Director of the Law Enforcement Engagement Initiative (LEEI): “On behalf of my colleagues in law enforcement and everyone who cares about true public safety, I thank the Department of Justice for finally taking steps to hold Joe Arpaio accountable for his actions. Every day that Arpaio focused on terrorizing immigrant and Latino communities while serious criminals roamed the streets of Maricopa County made other law enforcement officials’ jobs harder across the nation. Unfortunately, Arpaio’s obsession with rounding up immigrants at the cost of community outreach and safety has spread to other sheriffs and become enshrined in several state laws. The Department of Homeland Security should be commended for limiting its cooperation with Arpaio, but until the racial profiling and aggressive tactics he championed are no longer encouraged by state laws like Alabama’s or tacitly condoned by federal programs like Secure Communities, we have not yet eradicated his legacy of fear. Unfortunately, Arpaio has flaunted his unconstitutional tactics with such vigor that, nothing short of a federal consent decree will get him to comply DOJ requests and change his behavior.”