DOJ Sues AZ’s Arpaio, Calling It “An Abuse of Power Case”


The Justice Department lawsuit against Maricopa County, Az., sheriff Joe Arpaio asks a federal court to prevent the brazen and outspoken lawman from racially profiling Latinos, abusing them in his jails, and retaliating against his critics, says the Los Angeles Times. “The police are supposed to protect and support our community, not divide them,” said Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez, head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division. “This is an abuse of power case involving a sheriff and a sheriff’s office that has ignored the Constitution.”

The lawsuit, filed yesterday in U.S. District Court in Phoenix, alleges that Arpaio’s department engages in a “pattern of unconstitutional conduct” against Latinos, especially immigrants. Justice Department officials in Washington are asking the court to name an independent monitor to oversee the sheriff’s office, develop reform policies to better staff the jails and patrol the county, and possibly find Arpaio and other top sheriff’s officials in contempt of court if they do not make changes in a community whose Latino population has grown by 47 percent over the last decade. The sheriff issued a 17-page document called “Integrity, Accountability, Community” that addressed some of the issues, but Perez called it “largely an admission of the problem.”

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