Humbled Arpaio Submits DUI Task Force Plan for Review by Judge and Lawsuit Plaintiffs

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's agency can't even arrest a few drunks with the other cop shops without first submitting his plans in writing to federal court.

As part of the order by U.S. District Judge Murray Snow last month in a wide-reaching racial-profiling lawsuit, procedures to help stop Arpaio's deputies from discriminating against Hispanics include providing full notice of any "significant operation" before it occurs. The plans are to be reviewed by a court-approved monitor when a monitor is selected; until then, plans must be submitted for review by Judge Snow and the lawsuit's plaintiffs.

See also: -Arpaio "Circumventing" Federal Court, Claims Lawyer for Plaintiffs in Melendres

Arpaio didn't submit a plan for a two-day crime sweep conducted last month, raising a stink by the plaintiffs. The Sheriff's Office apparently learned its lesson regarding that rule and filed plans this week (see below) to let the judge and plaintiffs know that a handful of deputies would be participating in the 2013 Holiday DUI Task Force with other law enforcement agencies.

"The Arizona Governor's Office of Highway Safety . . . has requested that defendant (MCSO) participate in its annual multi-law enforcement agency 2013 Holiday Task Force starting on November 29, 2013 and ending January 1, 2014," the written notice states. It goes on to explain that the MCSO busts drunk drivers, which helps keep the community safer, and that it has a contractual obligation to the highway-safety office to provide deputies for the program.

The notice includes a 51-page attachment outlining the agency's action plan for its role in the task force, emphasizing that at no point will anyone be arrested because of a suspect's immigration status. A footnote to the filing "respectfully" argues that participation in the annual anti-DUI crackdown should not be considered a "significant operation" under Snow's order because fewer than 10 deputies are typically deployed.

The footnote continues: "Please note, however, that regardless of whether the MCSO's participation in the DUI Task Force those dates qualifies . . . as a "Significant Operation," the MCSO is voluntarily collecting to the extent possible, for its involvement, the categories of data set forth in the Order. Such data will be made available to the monitor, when appointed, and to the Plaintiffs' representative."

This is sort of like the school bully being forced to write a request to the principal, asking if he can go out to the playground with others, and promising to not to beat up the smaller kids if the answer's yes.

Not that we want our analogy to make light of this case: In May, Snow determined in the long-running Melendres vs. Arpaio lawsuit that the sheriff's office had practiced systemic discrimination against Hispanics. Arpaio's office must submit advance word of significant operations because it has abused the civil rights of some of those netted in past operations.

Unless the judge changes his mind, the sheriff's office will have to continued to give independent authorities a heads-up whenever deputies are engaged in any sort of hunt for suspects.

Click here to read the notice by Arpaio's office and the DUI task force plan.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.