The Department of Justice this afternoon sent a letter to attorneys representing the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office in response to demands Sheriff Joe Arpaio made earlier this month regarding evidence the feds claim to have that shows the MCSO is guilty of the worst racial-profiling practices in U.S. history.
The sheriff's demands were simple: he wants to see the proof the DOJ claims to have against his agency before he will cooperate with the feds in correcting the problems outlined in a December letter from Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez, which outlined a culture of racial-profiling at the MCSO.
"What we want for the Department of Justice to do is play ball," Arpaio said at the time of his January 4 letter to the DOJ. "In other words, provide whatever proof they may have to back their findings -- proof, which, by the way, they have refused to give us or the media. And if they cannot prove their findings, which I suspect to be the case, then stop the political posturing."
The feds' response: Arpaio already has the evidence -- he's the one who gave it to the DOJ in the first place.
"The claim that MCSO does not know the basis of our findings strains credulity," Perez writes in a letter sent to the MCSO this afternoon.
He goes on to explain the following:
"In fact, the basis of our findings is largely in your possession. Since our Title VI lawsuit, you have provided us with thousands of documents including policies, procedures, reports, correspondence, training materials, raw data and other documents prepared and kept by MCSO. In addition, we interviewed dozens of MCSO command staff, staff, deputies, detention officers, and posse members. MCSO was fully aware of each employee and posse member interview, and counsel for MCSO was present for the interviews with command staff. Compliance with the majority of your requests would require us to return your own documents to you. If you review your own documents, or consult with the attorneys who were present for many of the interviews, you will be able to gain ample understanding of our findings."
Arpaio's written off the DOJ's investigation as a political witch hunt designed to help get President Barack Obama re-elected in November. Since the DOJ's findings were made public in Perez's December 15 letter, the Department of Homeland Security stripped MCSO officers of their ICE authority, which allowed them to essentially act as immigration officers.
Arpaio says he hopes to be able to cooperate with the feds, but he's not afraid to take the DOJ to court.
The MCSO didn't immediately respond to New Times' request for comment this afternoon.
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See Perez's entire letter below.