In spite of all of Sheriff Joe Arpaio's bluster, the claims of he and his subordinates that the U.S. Department of Justice's report on his racial-profiling ways is hogwash, and the use of that report by Arpaio's re-election campaign to raise money, Arpaio's office issued a statement yesterday after a summit with DOJ representatives that reads like an admission of guilt.
The DOJ has yet to respond to my inquiry for a comment on the meeting, but here's what the MCSO had to say:
"Representatives of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, and the attorneys for the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office met with attorneys from the U.S. Department of Justice today to discuss the allegations presented in the letter from the Department of Justice dated December 15, 2011.
"The parties have agreed to work together to develop a document that addresses any agreed upon improvements needed in the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office. The Sheriff and the US Department of Justice are both committed to avoiding unnecessary and expensive litigation by the creation of an enforceable agreement which will lead to sustainable reforms and positive results for all citizens of Maricopa County. These discussions will continue in earnest and will be completed by April 14, 2012."
The feds recently warned Arpaio's office that the two sides would be headed to court if the MCSO wasn't willing to cooperate, a warning that Arpaio's top flack, Deputy Chief Jack MacIntyre labeled as "saber rattling."
Early on, MacIntyre dismissed the report as pure bunk, claiming that there were "no specific allegations" in it, a statement belied by the reporting of this paper and every other news outlet that's looked into allegations that the MCSO targets Latinos in its hunt for illegal immigrants.
But to judge by this new MCSO statement, the "saber rattling" and the DOJ's report in December, finding that the MCSO had engaged in racial-profiling on a massive scale, have at least forced the MCSO to act like it's going to comply.
The DOJ found, among other things, that, "Latino drivers are four-to-nine times more likely to be stopped than similarly situated non-Latino drivers," that a fifth of all immigration-related traffic stops by the MCSO violated the U.S. Constitution, and that Spanish-speakers in Joe's jails were discriminated against in a systematic fashion.
As Village Voice Media Executive Editor Michael Lacey pointed out in his recent commentary, "Coddling Joe: How Do You Collaborate With a Felon?," racial profiling is a felony. So, too, is operating under the color of law to deprive an individual of his or her constitutional rights.
The DOJ report took note of Arpaio's retaliation against his critics and political enemies, though the report was issued by the department's Civil Rights Division, which is seeking a "civil" remedy to Arpaio's years of abuse.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
But what about Arpaio's alleged criminal activities? What about the federal grand jury that had been impaneled as far back as late 2009 to probe the MCSO's abuse of power violations?
Why haven't there been indictments on the lawbreaking that's been going on, some of which has been outed by whistle-blowers in Arpaio's own office?
Until the U.S. Attorney's Office seeks those indictments, we can have no faith in any sort of negotiated settlement, wherein Arpaio promises to behave himself. Or more accurately, wherein his flunkies make that promise for him.
The role of a prosecutor is not to let the guilty get off with a promise. It's to put criminals behind bars. And if the DOJ can't stomach the job, then it should seriously consider dropping that word "justice" from its name.