Thursday, December 15, 2011

U.S. DOJ's Investigation of the Maricopa County Sheriffs Office: A Textbook Pattern and Practice of Civil Rights Violations of Latinos and Immigrants


The long-awaited report on the Department of Justice's investigation of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's office, featured often on ImmigrationProf, is finally complete.  Read it for yourself.  The facts -- and rampant and flagrant -- violations of civil rights of immigrants and Latinos is shocking.  Racial profiling, police brutality, racial slurs, discriminatory detention practices, etc. are all documented in the lengthy report.  It makes one wonder how this could happen in the modern United States!

Here is the AP summary of the report:

"The federal government issued a scathing report Thursday that outlines how Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio'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 based on racially charged citizen complaints.

Here is the "remedial measures" section of the DOJ report:

"The factual findings detailed above provide reasonable cause to believe that [Maricopa County Sheriff's Office (MCSO)] has committed violations of the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, Section 14141, and Title VI. The Civil Rights Division accordingly notifies you that, absent MCSO taking clear steps toward reaching an agreement with the Division to correct these violations in the next 60 days, the United States will conclude that voluntary compliance is not possible and will initiate civil litigation to compel compliance with Section 14141 and Title VI. Should MCSO indicate within those 60 days that it does not intend to work with the Division, we may initiate suit in fewer than 60 days. MCSO is further cautioned not to intimidate, threaten, coerce, or engage in other discriminatory conduct against anyone because he or she has either taken action or participated in an action to secure rights protected by the civil rights laws we enforce.

The constitutional violations and institutional deficiencies highlighted above are the product of an ingrained culture that encourages and tolerates the discriminatory treatment of Latino persons and an agency that lacks the requisite policies and practices to ensure effective and constitutional law enforcement. Reform will require sustained commitment to long-term structural, cultural, and institutional change, including, but not limited to, the following:

• Training for Deputies: MCSO must develop effective and meaningful training for deputies in constitutional policing, including how to perform stops, searches, seizures, and arrests consistent with the requirements of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments.

• Special Operations and Specialized Units: MCSO must develop and implement detailed policies, procedures, and training regarding (1) special operations, including, but not limited to, crime suppression sweeps or saturation patrols, worksite raids, drop house raids, and roving smuggling patrols, and (2) specialized units, including, but not limited to, SWAT, HSU, and CES.

• Data Collection and Risk Management: MCSO must develop and implement a data collection system regarding all law enforcement activity in order to enable MCSO to supervise, manage, and intervene, when appropriate. Such a program requires detailed auditable reports for traffic and pedestrian stops; immigration-related stops, raids, or inquiries; searches and seizures; and worksite raids.

• Complaint System and Internal Affairs: MCSO must develop and implement a comprehensive complaint, investigation, and disciplinary system to enable it to hold officers accountable when they violate policy and/or the law. The complaint system must be accessible to all community members and allow the public to make complaints against MCSO staff and deputies without fear of retaliation. The internal investigative process should include clear avenues for adjudication, discipline, and criminal prosecution, if necessary, as well as access for LEP individuals.

• Language Access: MCSO must develop and implement a comprehensive language access program for its deputies and officers who encounter LEP individuals in the jails and for its enforcement activity in the community. Training on this program must be routine and detailed, such that all staff are aware of their language access obligations and are held accountable for failure to implement appropriate measures.

• Community Outreach: MCSO must meet the law enforcement needs of all its residents, regardless of their race or ethnicity. To that end, MCSO must engage with and reach out to Maricopa County's Latino residents to ensure that it is fairly and effectively providing them with law enforcement services.

We strongly believe that effective policing and constitutional policing go hand in hand. In recent years, we have worked productively and collaboratively with law enforcement agencies across the country, increasingly at their request, to address serious concerns that threaten to undermine public confidence and hinder operational effectiveness. Our goal in every case is to work collaboratively to obtain a detailed understanding of the precise challenges and their root causes, and to develop and implement sustainable reform measures that will reduce crime, ensure respect for the Constitution, and increase public confidence in law enforcement. We stand ready to work cooperatively with you to address the concerns outlined in this letter, and we remain prepared to take prompt, appropriate legal action if you choose to forego collaboration. The violations we have identified are serious, and voluntary compliance with the Constitution and federal law will require a detailed agreement incorporating the foregoing remedial measures. Given the systemic nature of the constitutional violations, effective compliance in this case will require federal judicial oversight; a court-enforceable agreement will provide the structure, transparency, and accountability necessary to achieve sustained success."

 The Statement by Secretary Napolitano on DOJ’s Findings of Discriminatory Policing in Maricopa County issued today reads:

“The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is troubled by the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) findings of discriminatory policing practices within the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO). Discrimination undermines law enforcement and erodes the public trust. DHS will not be a party to such practices. Accordingly, and effective immediately, DHS is terminating MCSO’s 287(g) jail model agreement and is restricting the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office access to the Secure Communities program. DHS will utilize federal resources for the purpose of identifying and detaining those individuals who meet U.S. Immigration Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) immigration enforcement priorities. The Department will continue to enforce federal immigration laws in Maricopa County in smart, effective ways that focus our resources on criminal aliens, recent border crossers, repeat and egregious immigration law violators and employers who knowingly hire illegal labor.”


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