On the eve of the U.S. Justice Department’s anticipated filing of a lawsuit alleging racial profiling by the Maricopa County, Az., Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff Joe Arpaio unveiled the most public effort to overhaul the office since he took the job nearly 20 years ago, the Arizona Republic reports. Justice was expected to sue Arpaio today. Sheriff’s officials were under no impression that the reform plan would stop the Justice Department from taking legal action. They hope the initiative will provide a framework for improvement within the Sheriff’s Office while the legal dispute makes its way through court.
The sheriff’s initiative focuses on community outreach, accountability within the agency, transparency in how the office conducts its operations, and more robust data collection. The goal is to improve the Sheriff’s Office and build trust within certain segments of the community. “We’ve been talking about this philosophy for months, and we finally decided — the sheriff decided — it’s no longer time to sit on our hands waiting for the Department of Justice to take us to court. Let’s do something about it,” Chief Deputy Jerry Sheridan said.