MCSO Racial Profiling

More from this show

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has refused to have a monitor watch his department after a judge rules that the sheriff’s office engaged in racial profiling. Negotiations continue on that issue. Arizona Republic reporter JJ Hensley brings us up to date.

Ted Simons: Good evening. Welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Maricopa County Joe Arpaio is resisting the idea of a monitor to oversee his department and ensure that the MCSO stops engaging in racial profiling. Here to update efforts to resolve the issue is JJ Hensley, who covers the sheriff's office for the Arizona Republic. Good to see you again. Thank you for joining us.

JJ Hensley: Good to see you.

Ted Simons: Let's set the parameters here. A joint agreement on a court ruling involving the ACLU.

JJ Hensley: Yes. The judge ordered them to kind of take a break and negotiate, which is what they have been doing for the last six, eight weeks. These are pretty common in these types of lawsuits when they are trying to resolve them. The point is, "you, high-priced lawyers, go off, do your thing, try to resolve as many of these issues as possible, and bring whatever you can't back to me and I'll make a decision if need be."

Ted Simons: And one of those issues, really the biggie, because we know how the sheriff feels about this, this court-appointed monitor. What are we talking about here?

JJ Hensley: At some point it's going to -- it's become quite obvious that one is going to be appointed. I think anyone looking at this might well say that the sheriff is dragging his feet on this. It's inevitable that we're going to have one. The real question is what power that monitor will have and how the judge is going to have to tailor that monitor's powers so they don't override the sheriff's constitutional powers.

Ted Simons: Is the sheriff's office, or the attorneys for the sheriff's office, are they basically saying, "We're more concerned about the powers"? Or are they still saying, "There should be no court-appointed monitor"?

JJ Hensley: They are adamant that they do not want a court-appointed monitor, but they understand, I think, that there's going to be one. So the real discussion is what kind of powers is that monitor going to have and is he going to be able to tell Arpaio, "no, you can't do this, yes, you can do that." The ACLU would like that monitor to be able to preempt operations before they happen. The sheriff's office doesn't see that as being appropriate at all.

Ted Simons: Just to be clear, the joint agreement: the sheriff's office did agree to this, did they not? Didn't they agree to the court? They didn't like it, but they agreed. What are they arguing about?

JJ Hensley: It's part of the verdict -- well, verdict -- the ruling in the ACLU's favor from Judge Snow. So yes, they agreed to negotiate in good faith. Both sides say that's what's been going on for the last six, eight weeks. They really came down to eleven core issues that they just could not come to an agreement on. Some of it, the devil's in the details. Some of it is broad. "We will never agree to this" is what the sheriff's office is saying.

Ted Simons: Let's talk about some of the other disagreements. We have already mentioned the court-appointed monitor. Racial profiling training for deputies, problem there?

JJ Hensley: That's more of a detail-oriented issue. How much training are they going to have in person? How much is going to be online? How frequent is that going to be through the course of the year? The sheriff's office says these guys are in mandated training X amount of hours a year. If we keep adding to that it will be hard for them to be on patrol. That's a detail-oriented issue. Some of the others that are more significant are the role of community involvement in this. Or the ACLU wants to kind of overhaul or have oversight of the sheriff's internal discipline system. Those issues according to the sheriff's office are beyond the scope of this court ruling.

Ted Simons: The ACLU wants internal investigation changes. They want the monitor -- internal investigations, that's pretty deep involvement there.

JJ Hensley: Yes. The ACLU's point is, you know, if you remember back to last summer with that trial it was tightly managed. Each side only had 20 hours to present their case in chief. Each side had to tailor its witnesses accordingly. The ACLU couldn't put up people who tried to make complaints and had them go nowhere. Even the few witnesses they were able to put up when they talked about the complaint process they tried to make complaints about deputies profiling them and they said the complaints went nowhere. Clearly in the ACLU's mind there's need for overhaul in that system.

Ted Simons: And that's one of the ones where the sheriff's department is basically saying, "no way, no how".

JJ Hensley: "Hands off; this is not part of the litigation."

Ted Simons: You mentioned community input on the resolution and on getting this thing figured out. What does it mean? How would it work?

JJ Hensley: There's a few versions. Anyone who has been around for a while might be familiar with DPS's settlement with racial profiling there. That created a citizen advisory board that Janet Napolitano signed in '06, ‘04 somewhere in there. That still exists today. That's kind of one of the things the ACLU is asking for here. A lot of what they proposed you'll see in other agreements and other cities around the country where there have been profiling issues. That community involvement is a big piece of that. In New Orleans the community got to weigh in on who the monitor would be.

Ted Simons: I can already see Sheriff Joe Arpaio he doesn't want a court-appointed monitor. A group of citizens getting together -- I don't see him going for that at all.

JJ Hensley: His attorney, this may be prescient, but he said if that happens we're afraid that's going to turn into a political body intent on removing Arpaio from office.

Ted Simons: There have been some agreements, though.

JJ Hensley: There have. Shoot, the agreement they filed was 78 pages long and had 11 disputed points and dozens others where they could come to some agreement. The next steps for this: this Friday, they are going to have to file arguments with Judge Snow and he's going to review those over their disputed points and there's going to be that hearing on the 30th, so we have about another ten days to go.

Ted Simons: And Judge Snow, we should mention, circling back to the monitor, he was very big on the monitor. That's a done deal; it's just the details.

JJ Hensley: Anyone who has looked at these agreements across the country, a monitor is always step one. In the ACLU's mind, they say, "What, are we just going to trust you, Arpaio, that you're going to change things? No, we need to have someone in there to ensure that this change is happening."

Ted Simons: The sheriff's attorney, I think the quote you had in your story was, "The sheriff recognizes he needs to comply and that he must comply." Is that showing up here or is this still more dragging of the feet?

JJ Hensley: No. If you look at the bulk of that agreement and the issues that they have agreed on, you could say there are a lot of issues where he's shown some willingness to change operations, training, et cetera to get more toward this agreement. One of the other disputes is how long is it going to last? Three years or five years? ACLU wants five years, MCSOO wants three years. We have had this issue before with conditions in the jails and Judge Wake riding herd over 25-year consent decree. So it could go on for decades.

Ted Simons: We have another hearing coming up -- we could have kind of a final thing here when?

JJ Hensley: I think coming out of that hearing on the 30th we'll know a lot more about what Snow is going to have to kind of decide, what are the core issues that are up to him. He could come out of that hearing on the 30th and say, "This is what I've ordered, this is what I've decreed." So it's a good chance that things could start moving from that point.

Ted Simons: Before you leave, real quickly, Randy Parraz, the civil rights suit is adios. Do we know what's going on there? I know that just happened this afternoon.

JJ Hensley: The sheriff's office said that Parraz dropped it abruptly. The jury was seated. It was going to be in federal court. He was suing civil rights violations, alleging civil rights violations, from his arrest in 2008 at a board of supervisors meeting when there was a protest and he ended up getting arrested. The suit is dropped with prejudice, so it's not coming back.

Ted Simons: And is Randy Parraz coming back? I haven't seen him around in a while.

JJ Hensley: I have not been able to contact him. I have heard reports he's doing work with politicians out of state.

Ted Simons: Interesting. Great stuff, JJ, always a pleasure.

JJ Hensley: Thanks for your time.

JJ Hensley:Reporter, Arizona Republic;

Illustration of columns of a capitol building with text reading: Arizona PBS AZ Votes 2024

Arizona PBS presents candidate debates

The four men of Il Divo
airs June 2

Il Divo XX: Live from Taipei

Super Why characters

Join a Super Why Reading Camp to play, learn and grow

A photo journalist walking a destroyed city

Frontline: 20 Days in Mariupol

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters

STAY in touch

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters: