Feathered Bastard

Joe Arpaio Heads to the Woodshed: Judge G. Murray Snow Orders Monitor, Retraining, Video Cameras on Patrol Cars, and More in Melendres

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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."

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons