On December 15, the U.S. Department of Justice released the results of its investigation of the Maricopa County Sherriff’s Office, headed by Joe Arpaio, the self-styled “toughest sheriff in America” who has gained notoriety for his support of draconian immigration laws and his crackdowns on illegal immigrants. The DOJ found the MCSO engaged in racial profiling against Latinos and mistreated those it has arrested and detained.
A statistical analysis of traffic stops in the MCSO jurisdiction found that Latino drivers were four to nine times more likely to be stopped than other drivers. A squad convened by Arpaio to target cross-border drug smuggling routinely and frequently stopped Latino drivers without reasonable suspicion between 2006 and 2009, according to the report.
Speaking to the press about this finding, Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez said an expert consulted by the DOJ described this as “the most egregious racial profiling in the United States that he had ever personally observed in the course of his work, observed in litigation, or reviewed in professional literature.”
The report took Arpaio to task for fostering a prejudicial culture in the MCSO. According to DOJ, officers in detention centers used racial slurs when addressing immigrant inmates, sometimes placing Spanish speakers in solitary confinement for failing to comply with instructions given in English.
Arpaio faces a January 4 deadline to reach an agreement with the DOJ regarding supervised changes to be implemented at the MCSO, or he will face a government lawsuit.
ABC News reached out for comment to the MCSO but received no response.
Arpaio recently endorsed Texas Governor Rick Perry in the GOP presidential primary race. This was considered a coup for Perry’s campaign, which has struggled to establish Perry as a hardliner on immigration reform due to a Texas policy of allowing certain illegal immigrant students to pay in-state college tuition.
Perry said he was “honored” to receive Arpaio’s endorsement, and the two appeared together at several campaign stops in New Hampshire.