What the U.S. Department of Justice needs to grok about Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his upper echelon is that they are consummate prevaricators. Period.
They're sleazy weasels of the worst type. Essentially, the MCSO, as run by Arpaio and minions such as Chief Deputy David Hendershott, is akin to a mafia enterprise. With Arpaio as the don of dons.
So when you threaten to come down on the Godfather's head, you better follow through. Otherwise, he and his capos will see you as weak. In jail parlance, a "punk."
For the moment, it seems as if the feds are punking out on their August 3 threat to sue the metaphorical "Scarface" of Maricopa County. That's when the DOJ sent Arpaio's legal beagles a letter warning that the MCSO was in non-compliance with its investigation of the pseudo-police agency for civil rights violations.
Arpaio's non-compliance hasn't exactly been breaking news, as Arpaio announced during a July 2009 press conference that he would not be cooperating with the DOJ's investigation, which has been ongoing since March of last year.
The DOJ wants access to MCSO documents, facilities and staff. And like Robert DeNiro's Al Capone in The Untouchables, our impudent sheriff just keeps on thumbing his nose at 'em.
Worse than that even. I recall the New Yorker's Bill Finnegan reporting in his 2009 profile of our "shurf" that Hendershott told Finnegan -- regarding some DOJ lawyers paying the MCSO a little visit -- that he was "going to shove it up their ass."
Anyway, today's the big day, so what happened?
This from Fox News:
"Lawyers for Arpaio recently requested a conference with Justice Department officials to discuss the matter. A conference call was set up for Aug. 17, the day of the deadline, but then both sides agreed to an in-person meeting a week later, according to the Justice Department official. On Monday, the day before the deadline, Justice Department lawyers decided to make no decisions about further action until the in-person meeting, the official said."
Well, isn't that special. Maybe the DOJ suits can have tea and cupcakes with Hendy while they're at it.
Sure, this is just the civil stuff. The criminal allegations against Arpaio are being handled by a federal grand jury in Phoenix.
But it still affects people's lives. In part, the DOJ is supposed to be investigating allegations of racial profiling by MCSO deputies during Arpaio's Hispanic-hunting dragnets.
Arpaio hasn't stopped the sweeps. During the last one, as you'll recall, an MCSO goon squad falsely arrested Phoenix civil rights leader Sal Reza, picking him up off the street like this was El Salvador in the '80s. It was all caught on tape. The County Attorney dropped the charges for lack of probable cause.
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 DOJ can consider that well-documented violation of civil rights a freebie.
Thing is, the DOJ should have been suing Arpaio a year ago this time. While the DC lawyers dither, the MCSO continues to do wheelies on the U.S. Constitution and harass every Hispanic it comes across.
Just what does it take to get federal employees moving these days, anyway? Should we bake their cupcakes for them, perchance? Fluff the pillows for the upcoming MCSO-DOJ snugglefest? Book them a honeymoon suite at the Sheraton? (That's where the feds reportedly stay every time they blow through town, BTW.)
Believe me, I'm open to suggestion.