Sheriff Arpaio At Crossroads
The self-proclaimed toughest U.S. sheriff is approaching a crossroads. Maricopa Sheriff Joe Arpaio must decide to settle claims that he and his officers performed racial profiling against Latinos during their immigration patrols and overhaul his ways, or go to court and take his chances.
April 14 is Arpaio’s deadline for ending discussions with the U.S Department of Justice to settle a number of civil rights allegations. The allegations allege that Arpaio led immigration patrols based on complaints sent in via letters by residents about dark skin people congregating in a specific area or because people were speaking Spanish. None of the complaints reported a crime they had seen or that was in progress.
If Arpaio settles then his critics say it could lead to changes they have long sought. It was also end another racial profiling case that is scheduled for trial in the summer. Most law enforcement agencies that have faced similar Justice Department pressure have opted to settle. However, many feel that the sheriff’s stubbornness will tempt him to face his allegations in front of a judge and jury.
Critics say it makes him out to be the hero. The Justice Department says that Arpaio’s office used racial profiling of Latinos, punished jail inmates who were Hispanic and spoke Spanish and had little disregard for the basic constitutional rights of individuals.
The DOJ is seeking a settlement where the sheriff’s office would train officers in how to treat people in a way that protects their constitutional and human rights and reach out to the Hispanic population.