Jim Kouri
Obama, Holder pursuit of Sheriff Joe Arpaio continues
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By Jim Kouri
June 3, 2011

The U.S. Attorney General and officials with the Justice Department yesterday boasted that it had entered in to a court-enforceable agreement with the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio resolving a longstanding dispute over access to information related to the department's Title VI investigation of the sheriff's office.

The settlement comes after MCSO allowed officials from the Justice Department to conduct more than 220 interviews and review hundreds of thousands of pages of documents. Prior to the litigation, MCSO refused to cooperate in full with the investigation.

Many within the law enforcement community believed the entire legal action against MCSO and its leader was retaliation for disregarding the Obama administration's leniency towards criminal aliens and continuing its enforcement of statutes regarding illegal aliens arrested in the sheriff's jurisdiction.

On September 2, 2010, the department filed a lawsuit to gain access to MCSO's documents and facilities, as part of the department's investigation of alleged discrimination in MCSO's police practices and jail operations. Since March 2009, the department attempted to secure voluntary compliance with the department's investigation and did not receive full compliance until the lawsuit was filed.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio and others in Arizona saw Attorney General Eric Holder's politically-motivated investigation as nothing more than bureaucrats attempting to bully a law enforcement chief.

MCSO cooperated with the investigation by permitting the department to interview Sheriff Arpaio, command staff, deputies, detention officers and first line supervisors, as well as jail inmates. MCSO has also allowed tours of its facilities and has responded to each of the department's original document requests. Under the terms of the agreement, MCSO will continue to provide the department with access to sources of information that the department determines are pertinent to its Title VI investigation.

"After numerous requests for access to information, the department was forced to resort to litigation to compel the sheriff's office to provide us with full access to facilities, staff and documents, as required by federal law," said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.

Perez gained national attention when it was discovered he played a role in dismissing a federal investigation of the New Black Panther Party and it's alleged involvement in racially-motivated voter intimidation.

"This is a positive development after delay upon delay by the Sheriff's Office," said Dennis Burke, U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona. "We are working aggressively to review the facts and complete this investigation."

Sheriff Arpaio, his legal team and the Maricopa County Attorney at that time all believed the Justice Department's case was a fishing expedition to intimidate the MCSO and get the Arizona law enforcement community to back down from enforcing the state's controversial immigration law.

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination in federally assisted programs on the ground of race, color or national origin. Recipients of federal funds, such as MCSO, are obligated to provide the department with access to information and facilities pertinent to an investigation under Title VI.

© Jim Kouri

 

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Jim Kouri

Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police... (more)

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