The Department of Justice filed a civil lawsuit in federal court Thursday against Maricopa County, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) and Sheriff Joseph M. Arpaio, after it found the department consistently discriminated against Latinos.
The lawsuit comes after an independent investigation that began in June 2008 found the MCSO engaged in a pattern or practice of unconstitutional policing that included racial profiling in traffic stops, immigration operations and discriminating against Spanish speakers in the county jails.
The DOJ tried to negotiate an agreement with Arpaio to avoid a lawsuit until last month when Arpaio tried to stall negotiations.
“At its core, this is an abuse of power case involving Sheriff Arpaio and a sheriff’s office that disregarded the Constitution, ignored sound police practices, and did not hesitate to retaliate against perceived critics in a variety of unlawful ways,” Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, said in a statement.
“I’m not going to bore you with a conspiracy theory,” Arpaio said, “But I’m a little dismayed at the Department of Justice’s conduct…My patience is running out, this is all politics,” Arpaio said at a press conference Thursday, AZfamily.com reports.
Arpaio said he is not concerned about the lawsuit hurting his re-election chances. “I don’t need this to be re-elected,” he said, “I can be re-elected on pink underwear.”