Arizona Sheriff Arpaio to Be Overseen by Federal Monitor

Joseph Arpaio, the sheriff in Arizona who was found at trial to have violated the civil rights of Latinos, will be overseen by a monitor appointed by a federal judge.

U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow in Phoenix today issued an order saying he will appoint an independent monitor to ensure that the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office implements court-ordered changes in its policies and procedures and refrains from racial profiling and discriminatory policing.

“MCSO shall deliver police services consistent with the Constitution and laws of the United States and State of Arizona,” the judge said. “In conducting its activities, MCSO shall ensure that members of the public receive equal protection of the law, without discriminating based on actual or perceived race or ethnicity.”

Arpaio, who calls himself “America’s toughest sheriff,” is appealing the decision by Snow in May that his office violated the constitutional rights of Latinos stopped during “saturation patrols.” The judge agreed with a group of Latinos who had sued Arpaio that deputies can’t legally stop and detain them only on the suspicion they were undocumented immigrants.

Arpaio’s department covers Arizona’s biggest county by population, with 3.8 million residents. His methods, including the saturation patrols or “crime suppression” sweeps in predominantly Latino areas in and around Phoenix, have made him a hero to groups seeking a crackdown on unauthorized entrants to the U.S. and a target of advocates for immigrants’ rights.

Sheriff’s Office

“We’re very pleased with the court’s order,” Tim Casey, a lawyer for Arpaio and the sheriff’s office, said in a phone interview. “Sheriff Arpaio is still exclusively in charge of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office.”

Casey said the office will follow “the letter and the spirit” of the judge’s order while it pursues its appeal of the underlying case.

Dan Pochoda, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, said “Judge Snow recognized that Sheriff Arpaio’s years of discriminatory practices and unconstitutional policies required major change -- including appointment of a federal monitor, data collection and video recording for every vehicle stop,” according to a statement.

The case is Melendres v. Arpaio, 07-02513, U.S. District Court, District of Arizona (Phoenix).

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