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Justice: Arpaio engaged in 'wide-ranging discrimination' vs. Latinos

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio engaged in "wide-ranging discrimination against Latinos and retaliatory actions against individuals who criticized" his office, the U.S. Justice Department said Thursday. MCSO practices racial profiling in traffic stops and immigration sweeps, and discriminates against Spanish-speaking inmates in county jails, a report alleged.... Read more»

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20 comments on this story

 1 2 >
1
1770 comments
Dec 15, 2011, 11:37 am
-2 +2

Latino drivers are four to nine times as likely to be stopped by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office than non-Latino drivers, Justice said in the report.

I really take issue with this. I have a friend who is a cop, and he makes the point that it is very difficult to identify someone’s ethnicity until the cop actually walks up to the window after the car has already been stopped. At night, it’s almost impossible.

Thinking about what my friend said, I tried it out one time. While I was driving to and from work one day, I just picked out random cars that I was behind or near so I could see if I could identify the driver’s ethnicity. I can’t remember how many attempts I made, but I do remember I couldn’t tell a single person’s ethnicity during my exercise.

If anyone doubts this, I challenge you to do the same thing as your driving home today. Pick out a few cars in traffic, and see if you can tell who is driving them.

“Our investigation uncovered a number of instances in which immigration-related crime suppression activities were initiated in the community after MCSO received complaints that (snip) individuals speaking Spanish at a local business

When I go in to a business, and no one working there is speaking English…yeah, I think there might be some legal violations in their hiring processes, too. I don’t think that’s unreasonable, and I don’t apologize for it. I’m not saying definitely illegal, but I am saying it raises enough red flags to warrant looking into why no one there is speaking English.

Arpaio’s office has until Jan. 4 to decide whether to cooperate and work out a court-enforceable agreement to halt the practices, or face a lawsuit under the Civil Rights Act.

Well, I think we ALL know which way Sheriff Joe is going with this choice!

So, Mr. Smith, any attempt to contact Sheriff Joe’s office for comment or reaction for this piece? If not, why not?

2
555 comments
Dec 15, 2011, 12:07 pm
-1 +3

Bret Linden said something about:

“Our investigation uncovered a number of instances in which immigration-related crime suppression activities were initiated in the community after MCSO received complaints that (snip) individuals speaking Spanish at a local business

When I go in to a business, and no one working there is speaking English…yeah, I think there might be some legal violations in their hiring processes, too. I don’t think that’s unreasonable, and I don’t apologize for it. I’m not saying definitely illegal, but I am saying it raises enough red flags to warrant looking into why no one there is speaking English.

So, Mr. Smith, any attempt to contact Sheriff Joe’s office for comment or reaction for this piece? If not, why not?

Bret,

You’d think that on the 220th birthday of the 1st Amendment becoming part of the supreme law of the land, you’d recognize that our freedom of speech isn’t dependent on which language we’re speaking.

Where I grew up in Wisconsin, there are still some people who prefer to speak German and Norwegian. Are they somehow suspect as well?

As to seeking input from Arpaio - the man’s usually unavoidable for comment, but he’s not saying anything today.

3
1770 comments
Dec 15, 2011, 1:46 pm
-3 +2

@Dylan Smith

I spent some time growing up in Minnesota, my birthplace. Not too far from Wisconsin if I know my geography. When I lived there, illegal immigration wasn’t nearly as out-of-hand as it is today. One of those “different place, different time” deals.

I understand freedom of speech and civil rights, but somewhere, somehow, the common sense card has to start being played again.

4
26 comments
Dec 15, 2011, 4:34 pm
-2 +3

If it were impossible to tell the race of drivers, it would be statistically impossible for brown drivers to be pulled over at 400% of the rate of white drivers.

5
1770 comments
Dec 15, 2011, 4:42 pm
-2 +2

@Jimmy Zuma

Your comment is every bit is factual, insightful, educational, and enlightening as your column is. Trust me, that’s NOT a compliment.

Again, you don’t have to believe or disbelieve me. Run your own test as I challenged. And, if you have the stones, come back here and honestly post how your test went (I’m not expecting that to happen, by the way. I doubt you’ll even accept my challenge. You’re probably to afraid the results would contradict the beliefs that provide fodder for your column).

6
555 comments
Dec 15, 2011, 4:59 pm
-0 +2

@Bret Linden
Just for the sake of conversation, which rights do you hold inviolate, and which can be limited for the sake of expedience?

7
26 comments
Dec 15, 2011, 5:01 pm
-1 +3

I believe your debate, Bret, is with the scientific field called Probability.

8
1770 comments
Dec 15, 2011, 5:06 pm
-2 +2

@Dylan Smith

In several areas, concerning laws made at all the various layers of government, many law-abiding actions are considered “probable cause” for further investigation, or at the very least “suspicious”. (If you like, I can cite several examples of my own personal experiences…and I’m a white guy with no trace of Hispanic accent.)

Have you ever been to the airport in the last decade?

Just sayin’

9
84 comments
Dec 15, 2011, 9:02 pm
-2 +3

Bret, law enforcement has a wide range of technology to rely on, not just their naked eyes.  They have hi-resolution video cameras with image filters and can even listen in on a conversation going on inside of a vehicle.  It is very easy for law enforcement to deduce the ethnicity of drivers; for average joe’s like us it is not.  And also, yeah, statistically impossible like Jimmy mentioned.

10
1770 comments
Dec 16, 2011, 8:58 am
-0 +2

@scar

They have hi-resolution video cameras with image filters and can even listen in on a conversation going on inside of a vehicle.

That is paranoia right there. You did read where I cited my cop friend, right? He has no such equipment when he goes to work. Granted, he does not work for MCSO, but equipment like that is priced outside of the budgetary constraints of local law enforcement…even MCSO.

But, if you want to speak to probability, let’s go there, shall we?

Sheriff Joe himself has probably not made a traffic stop in quite some years. This would mean that for the “stop brown people only” theory to work, he would need other people in on it with him, right? For this to be the huge menace that the DOJ is trying to sell that it is, then Sheriff Joe would need a huge percentage of the MCSO in on this with him, and they would ALL have to keep it quiet. Also for this theory to work, the MCSO would have to have little-to-no deputies of Hispanic decent, right? Well, what’s the probability of that?

Tell you guys what…if with this breaking news, we end up seeing a parade of MSCO deputies all stepping up and saying “Sheriff Joe told me to only pull over brown people” or something to that effect, then I’ll eat crow. But, unless that happens, then this theory is nothing more than a crackpot conspiracy theory with little probability of it actually being true.

11
555 comments
Dec 16, 2011, 10:54 am
-0 +2

@Bret Linden

Have you read the complete report?

Just a sample:

MCSO deputies we interviewed admitted that the immigration enforcement program, which lacks basic accountability and quality control measures and is characterized by wide ranging
and poorly planned “crime suppression” operations, has adversely affected their ability to obtain information and cooperation from the County’s Latinos. One deputy informed us that MCSO’s “aggressive” immigration interdiction efforts create a “wall of distrust” that divides the Latino community and MCSO. Another deputy was told by his supervisors to expect that he would encounter hostility from people who believed they were being stopped because of their ethnicity. A different MCSO deputy bemoaned the impact of MCSO’s immigration-related operations, stressing that they “affect our ability to work in a community that hates you.”

12
84 comments
Dec 16, 2011, 11:05 am
-1 +2

@Bret Linden
No that is fact, the equipment is out there for anyone to buy including you and me, and you don’t think the Sheriff has it?  Laughable! Your cop friend does not work for MCSO and not every cop needs or uses the equipment.  ALSO, it is non-trivial for a cop to run a License Plate and determine if the registered owner ‘sounds’ Latino.  There are a whole slew of conditions that make it incredibly easy for a cop to determine ethnicity, and your trivial “challenge” for us to try it is nonsensical.

As for your spiel on statistics, you are making it way too complicated.  Think about it a little more…. All things being equal, it is statistically impossible to pull over Latinos at 400%-900% the rate that non-Latinos are.  That is like saying I flipped a coin 10,000 times and I got 95% heads: the coin is obviously weighted because that is a practically impossible result.  But things aren’t equal, so that’s why we have this statistic.

13
1770 comments
Dec 16, 2011, 11:06 am
-0 +1

@Dylan Smith

None of that enhances the “profiling stop” theory. Just because someone believes they were stopped because of color doesn’t make it so. Perception is not always reality.

I’m not disputing that Sheriff Joe’s priorities are on immigration violation enforcement. That’s been made abundantly clear, and I doubt Sheriff Joe would dispute it either. I’m not even disputing that Sheriff Joe is somewhat of a crackpot. I don’t much care for the man, but I have my own reasons having nothing to do with what’s outlined in this story.

What I am disputing concerning this particular story are three things…

-The theory of anyone being pulled over based on ethnicity.

-The theory of immigration violation enforcement being unimportant to the safety and security of any given community

-The apparent theory that allowing border jumpers a pass is not grossly disrespectful to our laws and sovereignty, and the apparent theory that allowing border jumpers a pass is not grossly unfair to the immigrants who respected our country enough to come in the legal way wanting to actually become Americans rather than expecting Americans to become them.

14
84 comments
Dec 16, 2011, 11:07 am
-0 +0

oops i meant to say trivial ;-)

15
555 comments
Dec 16, 2011, 11:16 am
-1 +1

A quick thought related to your original comment on this story, @Bret Linden:

You’re a reasonably red-blooded American male, right Bret? Do you mean to tell me you don’t notice when there’s an attractive woman in a car near you? You can’t pick out her hair color, determine an approximate age, and extrapolate a few other physical characteristics based on a three-second observation? Please….

(Thankfully, my wife doesn’t read too many online comments….)

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Maria Polletta/Cronkite News Service

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Sept. 2010.

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