Joe Arpaio Heads to the Woodshed: Judge G. Murray Snow Orders Monitor, Retraining, Video Cameras on Patrol Cars, and More in Melendres
Federal Judge G. Murray Snow issued his much-anticipated final order Wednesday in the ACLU's big racial-profiling case Melendres v. Arpaio, and you can bet Sheriff Joe will not be pleased.
The detailed 59-page command requires strict compliance with the court's previous injunctions against the MCSO's prejudiced policing toward Latinos, and it should force radical change on a law enforcement agency that has yet to join the 20th century, much less the 21st.
Essentially, Snow lowered the boom on Arpaio with a permanent injunction that the court will oversee until the MCSO has maintained "full and effective compliance" for a minimum of three years. Arpaio's office lost the case in May, with Snow's ruling that the MCSO had engaged in biased policing, a practice he ordered the MCSO to end.
As anticipated, in today's ruling, Snow ignored the objections of Arpaio and his attorney Tim Casey and ordered the appointment of an independent monitor at the MCSO's expense to review all aspects of the Sheriff's Office's compliance with this permanent injunction.
And there will be a lot for the monitor to oversee.
For instance, Snow instructs the MCSO to develop policies and procedures preventing discriminatory policing and unlawful detentions, keep detailed records of all traffic stops and larger traffic operations, and implement an "early identification system" designed to identify and halt unconstitutional behavior on the part of deputies.
The MCSO also will be required to provide "all sworn deputies, including supervisors and chiefs, as well as all posse members" with 12 hours of "comprehensive and interdisciplinary training on bias-free policing," and six hours on the Fourth Amendment, "including on detentions, arrests and the enforcement of Immigration-related laws."
The Fourth Amendment training will emphasize "the rule that use of race or ethnicity to any degree, except in the case of a reliable, specific suspect description, is prohibited."
Additionally, the MCSO must implement a community outreach program, consisting of annual community meetings in each of the MCSO's patrol districts, a bilingual community liaison officer, and a six-member Community Advisory Board, with three members chosen by the plaintiffs.
Future traffic stops will be audio and video recorded, and all patrol vehicles will be installed with the proper video cameras for such recordings within the next two years. Specialized units enforcing immigration-related laws must have the cams within the next 180 days.
Traffic stops, even when they do not result in a citation or arrest, will require meticulous documentation. Deputies will record, among other facts, "the perceived race, ethnicity and gender of the driver and any passengers, based on the officer's subjective impression," without any questions regarding these issues being asked of those in the vehicle.
Not only must the MCSO prevent racial profiling during traffic stops, it must halt "the selection of particular communities for targeted traffic enforcement based to any degree on the racial or ethnic composition of the community."
Addressing a point of contention from the last hearing in the case, Snow includes in his order, a requirement that "at the beginning of each stop, before making contact with the vehicle," deputies call in the reason for a stop to MCSO dispatch, unless circumstances "make it unsafe or impracticable."
Consider that rule a way of keeping MCSO deputies honest, so they cannot make up a reason for the stop after the fact.
Snow even gets into the details of how often higher-ups must evaluate a deputy's performance, and orders training for MCSO supervisors on how to be good supervisors.
Cecillia Wang, director of the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project and one of the attorneys directly involved in Melendres, told me that the message from Snow to the MCSO was plain.
"The recalcitrance has got to come to an end," Wang said. "It's really beyond time that the writing was on the wall."
Unless there is a stay from a higher court, the MCSO will have to comply with Snow's instructions, despite any appeal.
"Usually an agency that is a rational actor will say, `Okay, we have to change,'" she explained. "And you often see this in the form of a consent decree. But the MCSO kept blocking, and they've got this order now that's imposed on them."
Regarding the monitor, which the ACLU sought and the MCSO fought hard against, Wang said the plaintiffs' attorneys have been kicking around the names of possible candidates for the position.
Snow asked the parties to agree on a monitor in 60 days. Barring such an agreement, each side must submit their suggested monitors, and Judge Snow will pick.
"The judge made it clear in the last hearing that it has to be someone with law enforcement background," Wang told me. "And we agree. It's got to be someone who understands the needs and concerns of the community whose rights have been violated, and someone who understands law enforcement."
The monitor will act as Snow's eyes and ears for at least the next three years.
Snow ordered the MCSO to provide office space and equipment to the monitor, who may be an individual or group of individuals. The monitor also will be granted nearly unlimited access to the MCSO's records, facilities and personnel.
In turn, the monitor will make quarterly reports to the court, conduct annual assessments of the MCSO's progress, review classes and training materials, and make suggestions regarding all issues before the court.
Indeed, if the Sheriff's Office decides to execute a "pre-planned operation" (you know, like a sweep), involving 10 or more personnel, the MCSO must produce a "written protocol," outlining most aspects of the operation, and provide it in advance to the monitor.
Following any such operation, the MCSO has to turn over extensive data to the monitor and the plaintiffs regarding what was done, who was stopped and arrested, and so forth.
(If an ongoing criminal investigation might be compromised, notification will be provided under seal to the court.)
Snow indicated that the court is the "ultimate arbiter of compliance," and if, "the parties are not able to resolve issues with the monitor . . . [they] may submit their grievances directly to the court for resolution."
Still, with a separate court ruling last week enjoining the MCSO and the Maricopa County Attorney's Office from arresting and prosecuting migrants for conspiring to smuggle themselves in to the country -- and now Snow's final order -- Arpaio is hedged in more than ever before when it comes to terrorizing the Latino community.
Not that the MCSO's anti-Hispanic pogrom is over. There remain Arpaio's worksite raids, wherein the MCSO rounds up dishwashers, cleaning ladies, busboys, and the like for working illegally in the United States. This, under the guise of combating identity theft and forgery.
Similarly, the MCSO continues its discrimination against Latinos in the jails, among other constitutional violations addressed in the ongoing civil rights lawsuit brought by the U.S. Justice Department.
However, some six or seven years after Arpaio's immigration fixation began, the forces of bigotry in this county are in retreat.
"The justice system is catching up with MCSO now," Wang claimed. "It's time for them to change their ways."
Long past time.
Shortly after this blog post was published. Arpaio issued the following, a characteristically gruff response to Snow's ruling:
"I have received a copy of the court order and I am in the process of discussing it with our attorneys. We are identifying areas that are ripe for appeal. To be clear, the appointed monitor will have no veto authority over my duties or operations. As the constitutionally elected Sheriff of Maricopa County, I serve the people and I will continue to perform my duties and enforce all laws."
"Veto authority"? Talk about a straw man. No one asked for it, Joe.
Sure, you can appeal, seek a stay from a higher court. Which you're unlikely to get, as what Snow's demanding of you is par for the course when it comes to such orders.
Meanwhile, you'll have to do what Judge Snow says or face the consequences. Like contempt of court, for starters.
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