A U.S. Department of Justice report says that Arizona's Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio violated civil rights. They say that Sheriff Arpaio and his staff failed to protect Latinos and discriminated against individuals from the Hispanic community.
The report was the result of a three-year investigation into Arpaio's office. In the past, the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office received national attention and raised concerns when it conducted immigration raids against the Latino community. Arpaio himself even became something of a political figure, as GOP presidential candidates have even sought endorsements from the now-famous sheriff.
Experts now call Arpaio's actions one of the worst examples of racial profiling in the nation, the AP reports.
Arpaio and his deputies are accused of using excessive force against Latinos. They also failed to provide enough police services to the Spanish-speaking community. The Department is also investigating whether or not officers properly investigated certain claims of sexual assault.
The report also says that the sheriff's office targeted individuals who were dark-skinned or who were overhead speaking Spanish at local businesses.
The Department of Justice has set a deadline of January 4. By then, Arpaio must respond and tell the government whether or not he's willing to negotiate changes. If he doesn't, the federal government will file suit.
Race discrimination and racial profiling by law enforcement is against federal law in a variety of different situations. Police officers who discriminate against individuals due to their ethnicity, or stereotype that certain groups are more likely to commit crimes, may be violating the law.
The Justice Department's determination that Sheriff Joe Arpaio violated civil rights may serve as the impetus for the Maricopa County department's change. If he complies, Arpaio's relationship with the Latino community may also benefit. The government asks that Arpaio implement new training, develop a new complaint system, and perform outreach.