PHOENIX (AP) – The office of Sheriff Joe Arpaio has been unacceptability slow in making court-ordered changes in an Arizona racial profiling case, according to an official appointed to monitor the reforms.
The office lags in revamping training for its supervisors and setting up an alert system to help spot problematic behavior by officers, court monitor Robert Warshaw said in a report this week.
Nearly three years ago, U.S. District Judge Murray Snow ruled that Arpaio's officers in Maricopa County had racially profiled Latinos in regular traffic and immigration patrols.
Among other things, the judge ordered a series of changes at the agency, including making patrol officers wear body cameras and conducting more training to ensure officers aren't making unconstitutional traffic stops.
The judge is now considering whether to hold Arpaio in contempt of court for the lawman's acknowledged disobedience of court orders, such as letting his immigration patrols continue for 18 months after the judge ordered them stopped.
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In the monitor's latest report, the sheriff's office was found to be 61 percent in compliance in creating new policies and just 38 percent in compliance in carrying out operational changes — modest increases from the previous quarter.
The agency will remain on the hook with the court, and taxpayer costs are expected to continue to rise, until it has been found to be in full compliance for three years.
The profiling case also has morphed into an examination of alleged misconduct by the officers — internal investigations that critics say are inadequate — and how its managers handle problematic employees.
Arpaio attorney Michele Iafrate issued a statement saying the sheriff's office is working tirelessly to comply with the judge's orders.
She attributed the slower progress to attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union and U.S. Department of Justice who are pushing the case against the sheriff.
"When more than 10 attorneys from the ACLU and DOJ weigh in to voice their criticism to the proposed compliance, it tends to stall progress rather than support it," Iafrate said.
Attorneys who won the profiling case say Arpaio's office isn't making a serious effort to comply with the changes ordered by the judge and predicted that it will be many more years before the office reaches full compliance.
If the resistance continues, they say, they will ask Snow to hold hearings to determine why compliance is so slow and who is responsible for the slow progress.
"At some point, the people will ask: Is the sheriff complying with the Constitution?" said Cecillia Wang, one of the lawyers who pressed the case against Arpaio. "Because of their foot-dragging, we don't have an answer to that question."
Snow's upcoming decision over whether Arpaio should be found in contempt of court could lead to fines, increased oversight of his agency and a possible criminal contempt hearing.
Arpaio is seeking a seventh term this year.