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Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Aides Shielded Managers from Civil Rights Probe

— November 5, 2019

Arpaio’s since criticized the report’s release, suggesting it’s a deliberate attempt to interfere with his latest run for sheriff.

A court-appointed investigator found that high-ranking officials in the employ of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio disregarded a federal judge’s order for deputies to stop indiscriminately targeting Latino motorists.

According to The Associated Press, the investigator found that an internal probe into the alleged civil rights violation was whitewashed, with intentional omissions meant to shield managers from scrutiny.

The investigator alleges misconduct in Arpaio’s office, ranging from late 2011 through 2016.

Arpaio, adds The Associated Press, long billed himself as America’s toughest lawman. He took an intense, often controversial stance on a host of issues. As sheriff, he created ‘tent cities’ for county inmates, who were forced to perform hard labor in pink uniforms.

However, it was his department’s prejudicial treatment of Latino motorists which lost Arpaio the office he’d held for nearly 25 years. Not long after President Donald Trump took the White House, Arpaio was convicted of misdemeanor criminal contempt of court for refusing to stop traffic patrols targeting immigrants.

But Trump—a self-professed fan of Arpaio—quickly pardoned Arpaio, praising the former sheriff’s “life work of protecting the public from the scourges of crime and illegal immigration.”

The report’s release comes at a critical junction. The A.P. notes that Arpaio and another official implicated in the investigation are both running as Republican contenders in the 2020 race for Maricopa County sheriff.

Image of a law gavel
Law Gavel; image courtesy of Activedia via Pixabay,

The Associated Press names the investigator as Daniel Gianquinto, a former prosecutor and judge. Giantquinto was hired by U.S. District Judge Murray Snow to re-examine misconduct investigations into Arpaio’s office.

Snow, says the A.P., began the inquiry after becoming concerned that other, older investigations may have shielded some of Arpaio’s managers.

While Gianquinto concluded his investigation in 2017, the results weren’t publicized. The Maricopa County Sheriff’s office, too, pushed back against release, saying the report shouldn’t circulate until after employees faced the department’s own discipline.

However, the county was forced to release the investigation’s findings after the First Amendment Clinic at Arizona State University, prompted by The Associated Press, filed a petition.

Some of the documents since released suggest that Arpaio and his colleagues deliberately avoided court orders. For instance, Arpaio appointed sheriff’s Chief Mike Olson to lead an internal investigation into the department’s second-in-command, Jerry Sheridan.

However, Gianquinto noted that Sheridan was Olson’s commanding officer, and that the two were friends before and during the investigation.

“The structural impropriety made what should have been an independent and impartial process appear to be rigged in the department’s favor,” Gianquinto wrote.

While Sheridan didn’t carry out the department’s anti-immigrant sweeps, Gianquinto said that he, as Arpaio’s second-in-command, had a responsibility to ensure compliance with the court’s order.

According to Gianquinto, “a plethora of evidence in this matter demonstrates that Chief Deputy Sheridan was given notice of the preliminary injunction banning the immigration sweeps shortly after it was issued and remained knowingly indifferent to it.”

Arpaio has since criticized the report’s release, saying its politically tinged.

“Why are they coming out with this right now?” Arpaio aside. “It’s suspicious, since I’m running for sheriff.”


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