Civil Liberties

Arizona Taxpayers to Pay $21M for Sheriff Arpaio's Systematic Racial Profiling

The payout comes in response to a court ruling that the sheriff’s office racially profiled Latinos in traffic and immigration patrols.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio

Metropolitan Phoenix taxpayers are expected to pay out approximately $21 million over the next year and a half for as a resulting of a court ruling which held that the Maricopa County Sherriff’s office racially profiled Latinos, Arizona Daily Star reported.

The cost estimates were provided by the county officials by the Sheriff’s office as part of a budget-making process expected to end in May 2013.

Seven months ago, the U.S. District Judge Murray Snow ruled that Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s office systematically singled out Latinos in its trademark traffic and immigration patrols and unreasonably prolonged detentions of people pulled over.

Maricopa County would also have to pick up approximately $10 million in staff and other costs to comply with the judge’s order against Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s office.

Those costs includes covering expenses for installing video cameras in hundreds of the agency’s patrol vehicles, additional training to ensure officers aren’t making unconstitutional arrests and salary boosts to help the sheriff carry out the order.

Immigration activists said the county’s costs help to refute the argument that local police agencies should get involved in immigration enforcement to lower education and health care costs, which is arguably the responsibility of federal agents trained in that field.

However, Apario believes his efforts lowered crime in the county and doesn’t regret his involvement. He has appealed the ruling saying it cast an unfavorable and unfair light on his deputies.

The people who filed the civil case against the Sheriff’s office only sought a declaration that his office engaged in racial profiling and an order requiring it to make policy changes, rather than seeking monetary damages.

However, attorneys who won the case are now seeking an order from the county to pay $7.3 million for legal fees, a request which Arpaio's attorneys have called outrageous. 

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Jodie Gummow is a senior fellow and staff writer at AlterNet.