The Maricopa County Sheriff's office demands -- again -- that the federal government turn over more proof of its claim that the office has practiced routine racial profiling.
In a letter sent to the U.S. Department of Justice today (see below), a private attorney hired by the sheriff's office says it would be "utterly impossible" to find that evidence in 2 million pages of records it turned over to the DOJ.
The DOJ obviously has a subset of those documents that it relied upon to make its findings, writes taxpayer-funded attorney Joseph Popolizio, and "to expect the MCSO to guess which documents on which the DOJ relied to reach its findings is patently unfair."
Popolizio also notes that the Justice Department has refused a request to turn over the statistical report from which it gleaned the allegation, detailed in the DOJ's December 15 findings letter to Arpaio, that deputies stopped Hispanics at four-to-nine times the rate of other people.
We've been wondering where that statistical study is, too. So have others, like Arizona Republic columnist Rob Robb in a recent article. (It's worth pointing out, though, that Robb wrote in the same article that he's sure that Arpaio's deputies did practice discrimination against Hispanics.)
We talked to one of Arpaio's legal counsels, Jack MacIntyre, about the situation a few days ago and asked him whether it's the possible the DOJ just made up the statistic. He agreed that wasn't likely -- but we both agreed the DOJ should turn it over.
Mary Rose Wilcox, the lone Democrat on the county Board of Supervisors, also agreed earlier this week that the question was legitimate.
"But rather than being adversarial," she added, "let's look at what (MCSO) is doing, let's look at why they did it, and let's try to change the culture that in a lot of people's opinions has been very abusive to the Latino community in Arizona."
Popolizio's letter also claims that the DOJ is unfairly implying that hundreds of sex-crimes in cases "remain uninvestigated."
In his new letter, Popolizio states that, "The DOJ now appears to rely heavily on recent, inaccurate reports that hundreds of sex crimes remain uninvestigated."
Poplizio goes on to say that 189 of the re-opened sex-crimes cases have been examined and closed, and that only four are pending.
"Therefore, to intimate that hundreds of sexual assault and child molestation cases remain unattended under the MCSO's watch is simply disingenuous and does nothing but further the dissemination of falsehood," he writes.
Here's what the DOJ stated about the sex crime cases in its December 16 report alleging the serious and systemic racial profiling under Arpaio's watch:
Finally, we are continuing our review of allegations that MCSO has failed to investigate a large number of sex crimes.
The Sheriffs office has acknowledged that 432 cases of sexual assault and child molestation were not properly investigated over a three-year period ending in 2007.
These cases only came to light after a review by the EI Mirage Police Department of a period in which MCSO was under contract to provide policing services to that community. It appears that many of the victims may have been Latino. If established, this may constitute a failure to provide police services in a manner that constitutes gender and/or national origin discrimination in violation of the Equal Protection guarantee of the United States Constitution. Our review will not be limited to the pre-2007 cases, but include any allegations that the practice continued after that time.
On January 4, Popolizio sent the DOJ the sheriff's office reply to the racial-profiling report, demanding that the DOJ turn over the records MCSO turned over to DOJ, plus the names of those who tattled on Arpaio's office and a lot of other stuff. A couple of weeks before, Arpaio had voiced his extreme skepticism of the DOJ findings -- despite having targeted Hispanic illegal immigrants in the county for years.
The DOJ responded to Popolizio's reply with its January 17 letter, in which it again mentioned the sex-crimes cases:
...MCSO has already acknowledged that it failed to properly investigate hundreds of serious sexual assault and child molestation cases. You have ample information concerning this serious deficiency. Rather than debating the existence of this problem, we should be working immediately and jointly to fix this serious flaw. The Department of Justice has considerable expertise in this area, and remains willing to assist in addressing this issue immediately.
The statement does imply that the "serious flaw" exists right now and should be fixed, which conflicts with the idea that MCSO has solved the problem.
There's an interesting irony here, though:
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Arpaio's office still hasn't released the supporting evidence on the sex-crimes scandal that backs up Popolizio's statements.