Joe Arpaio Vs. Justice Department: Arizona Sheriff Is Latest Target Of Civil Rights Lawsuit

Joe Arpaio, the controversial Arizona sheriff, will soon be the target of a Justice Department lawsuit, which claims that the sheriff and his office have violated the civil rights of citizens, including racial profiling Latinos.

The lawsuit comes after a months-long review into the civil rights allegations against Arpaio’s office. The department has also refused to accept a court-appointed monitor to assist with the department’s training of officers on how to make constitutional traffic stops, to collect data on people arrested in traffic stops, and also to reach out to the Latino community and make amends between them at the sheriff’s department.

The DOJ states that Arpaio’s office has had the DOJ’s findings report, but they have not heard anything about it. Authorities have also not been able to meet with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office’s attorney since February 6th, a meeting that is necessary to discuss terms of a consent agreement.

Joe Arpaie has refused the court-appointed monitor, stating that it will undermine his authority. DOJ officials have responded, saying that this refusal is a deal-breaker, and will end settlement negotiations, resulting in the lawsuit.

Assistant U.S. Attorney General Thomas Perez sent a “notice of intent to file civil action” to an Arpaio lawyer on Wednesday, the first step in filing the promised lawsuit.

The civil rights allegations against the self-proclaimed “America’s toughest sheriff” have caused critics like the National Council of La Raza, an outspoken advocacy group for Latinos to call for his resignation.

Joe Arpaio’s office is also facing tough criticism after it came to light that more than 400 sex-crime investigations had not been examined adequately, or even at all, during 2004-2007. These crimes included dozens of alleged child molestations. The Arizona sheriff has since apologized for the inadequate handling of the cases. The department has reopened 432 sex-crimes investigations, which has resulted in 19 arrests thus far.

A separate probe into Sheriff Joe Arpaio by a federal grand jury has been going on since December 2009, involving criminal abuse-of-power allegations against his office.

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