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Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is sometimes misinformed about his infamous crime-suppression patrols, resulting in false public statements, according to a deputy who testified this morning in the racial-profiling lawsuit involving the sheriff's office.
Deputy Chief Brian Sands, who was in charge of choosing locations to do crime-suppression operations for MCSO, told U.S. District Judge Murray Snow that there was a "disconnect" between Arpaio and the deputies' actions during illegal immigration enforcement.
"When I say a disconnect, oftentimes [Arpaio] doesn't understand what the rank-and-file deputies are doing out there," the chief testified in the fourth day of the Melendres v. Arpaio lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, which accuses the Sheriff's Office of racially profiling Hispanics during its saturation patrols, or also known as crime-suppression operations.
In fact, Sands doesn't even like that Arpaio rambles on about the operations in press conferences or press releases, because he says the sheriff doesn't know what he's talking about.
"Arpaio sometimes is misinformed, through no fault of his own," Sands stated while he was being questioned by the sheriff's lawyer, Tim Casey.
"I rather do things without observation [from the media]...and I think a lot of police [are] like that."
One example that was touted in court today as a false public statement was an MCSO press release, which claimed Arpaio's office did a crime-suppression operation because of concerns related to lingering day laborers, even though no crime was being reported in the area.
"There were inaccuracies that went out," Sands stated, referring to the release.
The chief deputy tried to clarify that a lot of the operations were requested by local government officials -- in response to crimes actually being reported related to human smuggling and drop houses -- not simply because people were seeking work as day laborers.
Judge G. Murray Snow noted that none of the operations in question related to the lawsuit are about drop-house incidents. Sands countered, saying that when he planned the saturation patrols, drop houses were always on his mind as a reason to conduct the operations.
When Snow asked Sands if the main goal then is to snatch illegal immigrants during the crime-suppression operations, Sands replied that it wasn't, but deputies would arrest suspected illegal immigrants if they came across them during the patrol.
"That's not the goal or objective...but it's the results that occur," Sands told the judge. "If people are arrested and, subsequently, they're in the country illegally, that's the end result of stopping a certain amount of people."
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Sands might say that his goal isn't to look for immigrants, but Stanley Young -- a lawyer for the plaintiff -- questioned him about a New York Times article in which the chief says deputies "can make a quick recognition on somebody's accent, how they're dressed," when singling out illegal immigrants during patrols.
Even though he acknowledged it was his quote, the chief said it was used out of context, and questioned the reporter's credibility because Sands' first name was erroneously changed to Bruce in the news report.
Because his class-action lawsuit is a jury-less trial, the judge is allowed to interject with his own questions. The plaintiffs in the case are not seeking any financial gain, but want Arpaio's office to change policies that discriminate against Hispanic residents during its crime-suppression operations.
The case is scheduled to wrap up on August 2.