Joe Arpaio, Serial Racist, Brings Infamous "Crime Suppression Operation" (aka, Racial-Profiling Patrol) to Tempe
As long as Joe Arpaio is sheriff, every day in Maricopa County is Groundhog Day.
Despite federal Judge G. Murray Snow's May finding that Arpaio and his immigration-obsessed office are guilty of racial profiling and that the MCSO's prejudiced policing toward Latinos must cease, Tempe Police Chief Tom Ryff has invited Maricopa County's serial racist to his town, under the pretext of MCSO deputies' assisting the TPD with Arizona State University's out-of-control party scene.
According to the TPD, Arpaio's boys in beige will be helping them out with its "Safe and Sober campaign," though Arpaio's press release suggests a broader scope.
"Well known to Ryff and others," the MCSO's press release reads, "is the Sheriff's Office vast experience with widespread crime suppression operations which have typically resulted in a high arrest numbers."
Sorry, but until this clown has a court-appointed monitor, there's no reason to trust the MCSO...
Arpaio states in the release that, "As with all our crime suppression operations, we anticipate several arrests." The words, "of illegal immigrants" are omitted, natch. After all, this is supposed to be about all those drunken college kids, right?
During the years of the large-scale sweeps (approximately 2008 to 2011), the phrase "crime suppression operation, when uttered by Arpaio, signaled a racial-profiling free-for-all by his MCSO deputies over a two or three day stretch.
Indeed, in Judge Snow's May order in Melendres v. Arpaio, Snow cites the MCSO's press releases concerning such operations to bolster his observation that the intent of Arpaio's sweeps was, quite obviously, immigration enforcement.
"These news releases either emphasized that the patrols' purpose was immigration enforcement," Snow writes, "or prominently featured the number of unauthorized aliens arrested during such operations. Most of the time, the reports ignored any other arrests that took place."
Snow cites a number of these MCSO press statements, which were entered into evidence by the ACLU. These releases hardly are the only evidence of the MCSO's racial-profiling, but they're about as self-incriminating as it gets.
Interestingly, nearly all of the MCSO press releases regarding the sweeps apparently have been deleted from the MCSO's online file dating back to 2008.
(Some of these press releases can still be accessed via the Wayback Machine Internet Archive. Press releases with titles such as, "New Immigration Enforcement Posse Operational for 18th Crime Suppression Operation," and "Sheriff's Operation Results in Arrests of Large Numbers of Illegal Aliens," appear on the Wayback machine for 2011. But on the MCSO's website, they no longer appear.)
During a June hearing in Judge Snow's court, Snow made clear that he was enjoining the MCSO from enforcing civil immigration law. However, the MCSO can enforce state law.
That does not mean, of course, that the MCSO can racial-profile under the pretext of enforcing state law. At least, it's not supposed to.
During that June hearing, Arpaio's lawyer Tim Casey promised the court that the era of the MCSO's terrorizing the Latino community with sweeps was over.
"Those have not occurred since October of 2011 and they will not occur," Casey told Judge Snow.
Even more emphatically, Casey stated that, "The MCSO is out of the federal immigration enforcement business."
And yet, it did not take long for Arpaio to fire up his raids on local businesses, looking to arrest undocumented cooks, dishwashers, busboys and cleaning ladies.
Now, Arpaio is engaged once more in a "crime suppression operation," significantly, before Judge Snow appoints a civil rights monitor to oversee Arpaio's office and institute Snow's new rules for Arpaio's agency.
Only the most credulous of individuals could eschew skepticism given Arpaio's history of bigotry.
Local activist Lydia Guzman of the League of United Latin American Citizens is one of the skeptical. From the beginning of Arpaio's anti-immigrant sweeps, she has been part of a group of volunteers who've monitored Arpaio's actions and documented abuse.
She noted that Mexican Independence Day is Monday, and people of Mexican heritage will be celebrating all weekend.
Also, Saturday is the night of a big welterweight title fight in Las Vegas between American boxer Floyd Mayweather and Mexican pugilist Saul Alvarez, which will be broadcast via pay-per-view.
"This is Arpaio's last opportunity to round up brown people before he gets a monitor," Guzman told me. "Over the weekend, people are either going to boxing match parties or to bars. It's like a Mexican Superbowl."
Which is why she and a team of volunteers will be monitoring police activity via scanners, deploying with video cameras to document arrests should there be any sign that the MCSO is up to its bad, not-so-old ways.
TPD spokesman Steve Carbajal defended the TPD's joint operation with MCSO, saying that TPD and MCSO have partnered before on suppression efforts involving alcohol.
"I want to be very clear that this operation is targeted at youth alcohol violations in the City of Tempe and the violent crimes associated with this problem," he told New Times in an e-mailed response to questions. "We are simply targeting criminal behavior in our community fueled by alcohol."
"With respect to your question about what to tell the Latino community to reassure them they will not `be harassed and racial profiled by the MCSO' I submit the following. The Tempe Police Department has operational command of this task force, as we have in the past enforcement efforts. We have been diligent in our communication efforts with our community regarding this being a continuation of our Safe & Sober, Youth Alcohol enforcement."
(You can read Carbajal's entire statement below.)
Attorney Dan Pochoda of the ACLU of Arizona said that he understood why some community members would regard the MCSO's participation in this "Safe and Sober" campaign with a jaundiced eye, particularly when Arpaio's calling it a "crime suppression" operation.
"I have no doubt he was bursting to use that phrase again," Pochoda told me. "As you know, in the past, it was a euphemism for going after people of color for immigration violations. But there are other crime suppression operations in life...some very valid."
"There's nothing, so far, that implicates the findings of the order in our case. The fact that he use the same language doesn't do it."
I understand what Pochoda's saying. We will need proof that Arpaio is violating the judge's order. Proof the weekend may yet bring. (The operation begins Thursday at 8 p.m.)
Still, it would be best for the community not to have to worry about Arpaio's shenanigans, his inveterate lying, and his ever-present bad faith.
By including the MCSO in this operation, the TPD has handed the MCSO a PR bonanza, the price of which will be the trust of many who live in or visit Tempe.
Below is Sgt. Carbajal's response to my inquiry regarding TPD's cooperation with the MCSO:
This weekend's operation is a continuation of our Safe and Sober campaign. MCSO - who has concurrent jurisdiction in the City of Tempe - has been partnering with us since the start. We have also partnered with MCSO on a number of operations in the past. Some examples include Tempe Officers assisting Deputies with lake patrols, Extra Patrols on Mill Avenue, Participation in DUI task forces and resource sharing for large scale events such as 4th of July and New Year's eve. The common theme in our partnership has been alcohol enforcement.
It is not uncommon for Law Enforcement Agencies to partner and share resources on matters of crime problems that pose a significant risk to public safety. The Sheriff's Office has specialized resources to contribute to combating the issue of youth alcohol violations and alcohol fueled violence in Tempe.
I want to be very clear that this operation is targeted at youth alcohol violations in the City of Tempe and the violent crimes associated with this problem. We are simply targeting criminal behavior in our community fueled by alcohol.
By suppression we are dedicating our resources in a specific area on a specific problem. The area of focus for this campaign is a two mile radius around the ASU main campus. This area is where we are seeing the vast majority of party calls, youth alcohol violations, and other serious violent crimes per the loud party report compiled by our Strategic Planning and Research Center. I can pass along the report if you are interested.
Furthermore, the high number of arrests (*see below for first phase statistics) indicates that there is still work to be done to keep our community safe. As previously stated by Chief Ryff, this operation will continue until a significant impact has been made on the issues identified.
With respect to your question about what to tell the Latino community to reassure them they will not "be harassed and racial profiled by the MCSO" I submit the following. The Tempe Police Department has operational command of this task force, as we have in the past enforcement efforts. We have been diligent in our communication efforts with our community regarding this being a continuation of our Safe & Sober, Youth Alcohol enforcement.
This is an exciting [time] in Tempe. We are encouraging people to come to Tempe to have fun. However, we are asking people to be responsible and lawful.
*Statistics for first 9 days of enforcement:
Total Arrests - 1367 Total Cites - 3788 Total Contacts or Stops - 5815 Total DUI Arrests: 309 Average Blood Alcohol Content: .136 Minor in Possession of Alcohol Arrest: 125 Minor in Consumption of Alcohol: 381 Under 18 years, Minor in Possession of Alcohol =14 Total Loud Party Calls: 129 Nuisance Notices: 65 Party Notices w Minors in Possession of Alcohol: 60
Sergeant Steve Carbajal Tempe Police Department Media Relations Unit
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Phoenix New Times' biggest stories.