Assistant U.S. Attorney General Thomas Perez has sent a letter to Sheriff Joe's legal counsel, threatening to sue the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office if it does not comply with the U.S. Department of Justice's investigation into allegations of civil rights violations against the agency.
The letter reads, in part,
"This is to notify you that the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) is not in compliance with its obligations under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964...to cooperate in the investigation of alleged national origin discrimination undertaken by the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division...Absent MCSO voluntary cooperation with this investigation within two weeks -- by August 17, 2010 -- the Department will file a Title VI civil action to compel access to the requested documents, facilities and personnel."
The DOJ announced its civil investigation of the MCSO back in March of 2009, responding to civil rights complaints directed at the MCSO. But since May 2009, Arpaio and his underlings have refused to cooperate with the probe.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Phoenix New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Phoenix's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
The letter notes that on July 7, 2009, "MCSO held a press conference at which Sheriff Joe Arpaio and counsel stated that MCSO would not cooperate with the Division's investigation, would not produce additional documents, and would not provide any access to MCSO facilities or personnel. Subsequent communications from counsel reiterated MCSO's position."
To borrow a line from Arpaio's nativist backers, what is it about the word "illegal" that he doesn't understand?
I'm encouraged by this DOJ letter. Hopefully, they will sue the MCSO as promised.
Now what we need is a criminal indictment of Arpaio from that federal grand jury sitting down at the Sandra Day O'Connor U.S. Courthouse. And while they're at it, they need to take his entire command staff, including Chief Deputy David Hendershott and Deputy Chief Brian Sands, down with him.