A federal judge, who concluded an Arizona sheriff's office engaged in systematic racial profiling has appointed a former New York police chief to monitor the agency's operations to ensure it isn't making unconstitutional arrests.
Robert S. Warshaw, who once served as police chief of Rochester, N.Y, and went on to work as a court-appointed monitor in other cases, was picked by U.S. District Judge Murray Snow to monitor efforts by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office to carry out court-ordered changes. Warshaw's selection was revealed in a court order Friday.
Warshaw, who also served as an associate director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy during the Clinton administration, had been recommended by the attorneys who won the lawsuit alleging profiling by Sheriff Joe Arpaio's office. He had served as a court-appointed monitor for police departments in Oakland, Calif., and Detroit.
"We are really happy that the monitor is now in place, because there is a long road in bringing MSCO in compliance," said Cecillia Wang, a lawyer who pressed the profiling case on behalf of a group of Latinos.
Arpaio's office didn't immediately respond to a request for comment Friday morning. The sheriff scheduled a news conference Friday afternoon.
Snow ruled in late May that Arpaio's office systematically singled out Latinos in its trademark immigration patrols, marking the first finding by a court that the agency has racially profiled people. Snow also ruled that Arpaio's deputies unreasonably prolonged the detentions of people who were pulled over.
Arpaio's office has appealed the racial profiling finding and the subsequent ruling that ordered the appointment of a monitor. The sheriff has argued that if every one of his policy decisions would have to be cleared through a monitor, it would nullify his authority.
In addition to appointing a monitor, the judge is requiring the sheriff's office to install video cameras in hundreds of the agency's patrol vehicles, carry out additional training to ensure officers aren't making unconstitutional arrests, and set up a seven-person team of sheriff's employees to help carry out the judge's order.
The sheriff's office has estimated the costs of complying with the court's changes at $21 million over the next year and a half.
The compliance cost will be picked up by county taxpayers, but Arpaio is demanding that federal authorities pick up the tab, arguing that federal immigration authorities had provided faulty training on immigration law to some of his officers.
The U.S. Justice Department filed a similar lawsuit last year that also alleges racial profiling by Arpaio's office. Its suit, however, claims broader civil rights violations, such as allegations that Arpaio's agency retaliates against its critics and punishes Latino jail inmates with limited English skills for speaking Spanish. Arpaio denies the claims.