The U.S. Department of Justice has filed a civil lawsuit against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his Arizona department, alleging that he and his deputies engaged in racial profiling of Latinos. Arpaio, who has proclaimed himself America’s toughest sheriff, has grabbed headlines for his focus on immigration enforcement.
Last year, the Justice Department issued a scathing report that concluded that his deputies routinely engaged in discriminatory and unconstitutional law enforcement, conducting immigration sweeps instead of investigating crimes, including reports of sexual abuse. Arpaio responded that the investigation was politically motivated. Efforts to negotiate a settlement with the Sheriff’s Department stalled after Arpaio refused to agree to a monitor, arguing it would undermine local law enforcement efforts and authority.
But now it seems that Arpaio believes some of the concerns raised by his policies were caused by an “unfortunate use of language that compounds rather than describes,” what his office does, he wrote in a 17-page letter released Wednesday. In the missive, he says that terms like “culture of cruelty” and “racist” are ''tossed about in headlines and sound bites, while information to support these claims is not offered or communicated through the mainstream media.”
Surely, Arpaio can’t believe that is true, at least in Thursday's news accounts. Thankfully, the Justice Department's lawsuit was rich with very specific information about the allegations of unconstitutional and biased policing.