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Sheriff Investigating One of His Own for Racial Profiling?

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By Ray Stern

As many savvy readers know, the scrappy East Valley Tribune published a five-day series in mid-July that really socked it to Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his illegal immigration enforcement efforts.

The Sheriff's Office appeared stunned by the whole series and has never issued any formal response to the many damning accusations.

Among the most interesting findings: A Tribune reporter described how Deputy Jesus J. Cosme seemed like he was cooking up a fictitious probable cause for a traffic stop on a suspected illegal immigrant.

According to sources at the Tribune who wish to remain anonymous, the Sheriff's Office has been doing something about the series, though very quietly:

It is apparently investigating Cosme for racial profiling.

Tribune sources say that soon after the articles were published, several employees received phone calls from a Sheriff's deputy named Sgt. Ben Armor, who identified himself as a criminal investigator. He said he was looking into the alleged profiling by Cosme, the sources say.

Arpaio's spokesman, Captain Paul Chagolla, tells New Times no investigative reports regarding Cosme exist. (That doesn't mean no report will ever exist, though: Police agencies typically don't release reports before an investigation is complete). New Times asked Chagolla on Tuesday if anyone from Arpaio's office wanted to comment on the alleged investigation, and Chagolla said he'd look into it. He had no comment as of Wednesday evening. Armor did not return a call from New Times.

It's hard to know just what the Sheriff is up to. Is Arpaio really going after Cosme, or just trying to trip up or embarrass the Tribune somehow in retaliation for the series? Either way, it's a powerful acknowledgement of the hard work by Tribune reporters Ryan Gabrielson, Paul Giblin and others who helped put together the series.

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Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.