Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and one of his top deputies were called into court for comments the deputy made about federal oversight of the department. JJ Hensley of the Arizona Republic will give us an update.
Ted Simons: Coming up next on "Arizona Horizon" a court hearing over concerns with MCSO's compliance with a racial profiling ruling. Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton joins us for his monthly discussion of city issues. We'll visit a Mesa restaurant where a pipe organ steals the show. Next on "Arizona Horizon."
Narrato: "Arizona Horizon" is made possible by the contributions from the Friends of Eight, thank you.
Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Sheriff Arpaio and one of his chief deputies were in court today to explain comments that were critical of the Court and its oversight of the sheriff's department. Here with the latest is J.J. Hensley of "The Arizona Republic." Good to see you again. What was this court appearance all about? Was it really a couple of words said at a training session?
JJ Hensley: It was. It was in October before they did a crime suppression operation in the Southwest Valley. The stated reason for the operation was because one of the sheriff's detention officers was killed in his driveway when he was getting ready for work, and they wanted to attack gang activity in the area. The operation took place after the court injunction and before the monitor was appointed. Then Sheriff Joe Arpaio's chief deputy made statements during the training that were caught on tape and became a key point of the hearing today.
Ted Simons: He said the judge's order was "ludicrous" and "crap." I
JJ Hensley: "Absurd" I think was another word he used in there.
Ted Simons: Yeah. I think crap was in there, anyway, if it wasn't, it probably was somewhere. So the hearing today with Sheridan, was he contrite? Was everyone on their best behavior?
JJ Hensley: It seemed like he came in toward fall on his sword or at least ask the Court's forgiveness. The thing about how the sheriff's office moves forward under this court order, is whether they have to ask forgiveness from the Monitor or ask permission after the fact. The plaintiffs of course wanted the monitor to be there for oversight. Initially the judge went with the sheriff's office. This has kind of raised that issue again, too. How much should the monitor be able to say during training and before major operations, instead of simply reviewing the material they produce after the fact.
Ted Simons: And let's say the sheriff's office wasn't quite as contrite today or may not be next time something like this happens. What can the judge do?
JJ Hensley: Well, in the paperwork filed before the hearing today he said he felt they had violated the injunction. That's a violation of a federal court order.
JJ Hensley: You go down that road far enough and you have people held in contempt and brought into hearings. So that's pretty far down the road. I think from talking with the reporter there today and some other folks on this, it seems like this was more a way for the judge to establish early on, I'm paying attention, I know exactly what you're saying; and if it doesn't meet with the confines of my court order, we might have to talk about it, or you will be brought in here to talk about it. It kind of served to put them on notice.
Ted Simons: So these words during this training session, before an operation in October what do we know of that operation? And did the sheriff's department handle itself any differently during that operation?
JJ Hensley: I think that's going to be the question for all of these going forward. It really comes down to what reasons did they use, why did they choose a certain area for this operation. We know in the past the judge found that they targeted areas with a high Hispanic or Latino population in order to do their crime suppression operations. So why did they choose this area. And when they were making stops during the operation, what were the reasons for the stops. They have to document it before and after the stop. Sheridan and in some of his training remarks made light of the documentation before the stop. How could a deputy possibly know who he's stopping. The judge took note of that in his written order. So I think that's one of the things we'll have to look at going forward. The thing with this operation that's particularly kind of curious is I got to look at some of the arrest logs after the fact. And the percentage of Latinos and Hispanics who they stopped and arrested is really not that different from those operations that got them in trouble with the court in the first place. It really is going to come down to why did they stop this person, how long did they detain them, and what reason could they articulate for that stop or detention.
Ted Simons: Interesting. This case is still being appealed, is it not?
JJ Hensley: It is, it's in the 9th circuit. The sheriff's office is pretty dismissive that anything will come of that. The judge is careful to kind of consider here, Judge Snow, there are still First Amendment rights. They can still call my order absurd or ludicrous or crap or whatever word they want. But when they are doing training, and if training is the crux of the problem here, then that training has to be accurate and meaningful. And the way that Sheridan characterized the judge's order in that October training, Snow said was neither of those.
Ted Simons: Interesting. Department of Justice case, what's happening there?
JJ Hensley: It's still going strong.
Ted Simons: It is still going?
JJ Hensley: Uh-huh, uh-huh. Which I think is a surprise to some people, even some of the plaintiffs in this case, which was started in 2007. Because they feel like a lot of the issues that are being discussed here have been resolved. But we know from talking with restaurant owners who had their businesses, worksites raids, one ASU student who claimed he was the subject of unlawful arrest and detention, DOJ folks are out there interviewing who have nothing to do with crime suppression operations and everything to do with how to handles it self in the realm of the office--
Ted Simons: This is not the most urgent of investigations, it seems. This has been going on for quite a while.
JJ Hensley: It has. There's probably some sense in the sheriff's office that they can wait it out, and maybe there will be a change in the administration and things can change. And I think even we've seen that before in other areas. I know a guy who used to work for the sheriff's office here was counsel in Ohio where they had that issue come up between Clinton and Bush. And when Bush got elected he appointed a new attorney general and there it goes.
JJ Hensley:It went away.
Ted Simons: Thank you for updating us.
JJ Hensley:Journalist, The Arizona Republic;