Phoenix Sheriff’s Anticrime Sweeps Have Little Impact, Data Show


Phoenix Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s announcement that he will mark the dawn of Arizona’s new immigration law next month with a crime-suppression operation should catch nobody by surprise, says the Arizona Republic. Arpaio has been one of the most vocal supporters of the law. And he has made headlines for more than two years with his controversial immigration sweeps, typically placing dozens of deputies in neighborhoods with large Hispanic populations and ordering them to stop anyone for any violation.

Arpaio’s agency is the only one in Arizona conducting such operations, and most law-enforcement observers say they would be surprised if other police and sheriff’s departments model their policies after Arpaio’s. There are no clear data demonstrating the crime-fighting effectiveness of such policies. While it succeeds in locating illegal immigrants, its effectiveness in combating major crimes is questionable, and there are concerns that such sweeps draw resources away from activities that do combat major crimes. While Arpaio’s past 15 crime-suppression operations have captured a variety of criminals, the majority of offenders were booked for relatively minor offenses. An April sweep caught 93 people, most of whom were snared either solely for immigration violations or for minor offenses. Only two violent offenders were arrested.

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