Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s History and Legacy

This past Wednesday, Arizona Federal District Court Judge Murray Stone announced his decision, and thusly, Native Americans and Chicanos achieved their re-installation of civil rights for being free from “racial profiling.”  Consequently, Sheriff Joe Arpaio of  the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MSCO) will now have to undergo the requisite “monitor” or “oversight” that covers all law enforcement operations.

To wit, the Court’s decision encompassed the following critical elements demanded by the Plaintiffs, and of course, we extend our Kudos to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) for delivering their excellent legal skills:

  1. Deadlines.  A)  60 days.  Parties must agree on the selection of a court appointed monitor.  If they can’t agree, each party has 10 more days to submit a list of three names for the court to choose from.  B)  90 days.  Hold public meetings in each district, with at least one meeting annually in each district thereafter.  Hire a sworn deputy fluent in English and Spanish to serve as a community liaison officer.  C)  180 days.  Conduct comprehensive assessment of patrol operations regarding discriminatory policing. 


  1. Conduct six hours of Fourth Amendment training for all sworn personnel and provide supervision-strategies training for commanders.


  1. Develop a system to insure deputies collect data on all traffic stops, whether they result in a citation or arrest.


  1. Install audio and video recording equipment in vehicles assigned to immigration-enforcement details.


  1. Additional Deadlines.  A)  1 Year.  MCSO will develop a system for deputies to input traffic-stop data electronically.  B)  2 Years.  MCSO will equip all traffic control vehicles with audio and video recorders.  C)  3 Years.  MSCO must demonstrate full and effective compliance with the court order for three consecutive years before it can attempt to remove the oversight.

Given that Sheriff Arpaio is an Elected Official and not appointed, the court ordered Community Advisory Board, will become the ‘target’ of much political contention, given that the Sheriff’s latest outreach effort to Latinas, was rejected when a Latina Convention on Entrepreneurship and Self Empowerment refused to have the Sheriff’s Office become one if its financial donors.

And when put in proper context, the conservative-oriented Arizona Republic newspaper was correct in its ongoing assessment.  As such, the following:

The case began when Manuel de Jesus Ortega Melendres, a Mexican tourist legally in the United States, was stopped outside a church in Cave Creek where day laborers were known to gather.  Melendres, the passenger in a car driven by a White driver, claimed that deputies detained him for nine hours and that the detention was unlawful. 

Eventually, the case grew to include complaints from two Hispanic siblings from Chicago who felt they were profiled by the sheriff’s deputies, and an assistant to former Mayor Phil Gordon whose Hispanic husband claims he was detained and cited while White motorists nearby were treated differently.

In closing, the plaintiff roster exceeded well over 90 persons, and none were seeking financial compensation, but were seeking Justice in order to be free from the Sheriff’s “racial profiling” Construct.  And not forgotten among Native Americans and Chicanos, the then Governor Janet Napolitano entered into an ‘agreement’ where the Arizona Department of Public Safety (state police) would no longer “racially profile” brown people, and where such law enforcement behavior was tracked back to the early 1980s.

Photo by Gage Skidmore under Creative Commons license

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