The infamous Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his officers of Maricopa County in Arizona had to finally answer to their troubled past as a federal judge ruled on Friday that the sheriff and his officers have been profiling Hispanics during their patrols. The document by United States District Court Judge G. Murray Snow details the violations by the sheriff and his officers.
Sheriff Joe Arpaio has had a long list of legal woes, including an investigation in 2012 into allegations that his officers misused county credit cards and misspent jail enhancement funds, as well as as an abuse-of-power allegation, both of which he walked away free of any criminal charges. Arpaio has eluded many of the allegations brought against him and his office in the past, but Snow’s ruling may finally shed the light on the sheriff’s unethical ways.
According to Snow’s document, which was highlighted in The Atlantic, Arpiao and his subordinates used race as a major factor in forming probable cause for an arrest, systematically singling out Hispanics during their immigration patrols and border stops.
Arpaio’s officers conducted “saturation patrols,” where undercover officers would stake out places where Hispanic laborers would gather to identify vehicles that pick up the laborers. Once a vehicle was identified, patrol units within the area would be alerted and would follow the vehicle, “establish[ing] probable cause for a traffic stop.” Once the vehicle in question was stopped, officers would investigate the immigration status of any passengers.
“The great weight of the evidence is that all types of saturation patrols at issue in this case incorporated race as a consideration into their operations,” Snow stated in his ruling.
The lawsuit was brought to the federal judge by Arizona residents who said they had been singled out and stopped by Arpiao’s officers because of their ethnicity. Snow ruled in favor of the plaintiff, and ordered Arpaio and his officers to cease any racial profiling in the future.
“Singling people out for traffic stops and detentions simply because they’re Latino is illegal and just plain un-American,” said Cecillia Wang, Director of American Civil Liberties Unions Immigrants’ Rights Project and plaintiff’s counsel, to the Huffington Post after the judge’s ruling went public.
Wang added that the judge’s ruling is “an important victory that will resound far beyond Maricopa County.”
Krysta Loera is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire. Follow her on Twitter @KrystaLoera