Yesterday, Maricopa Country Sheriff Joe Arpaio, America's self-proclaimed Sheriff, formally responded to recent allegations by the US Department of Justice that his office was racially profiling a disproportionate number of US Latino citizens in the name of enforcing his state's immigration laws. The full letter from MCSO's legal team to the Department of Justice can be read here.
In essence, the letter says the following: we are willing to cooperate with the DOJ, but you better be up front and show us all the evidence, where it came from, and prove your allegetions. The DOJ quickly responded to the letter with the following statement, as reported by AZ Central:
The Justice Department would prefer to discuss a meaningful enforcement agreement that creates reforms in the Sheriff's Office, spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa said.
"Our findings show a clear violation of the Constitution and federal law and are more than sufficient to file a complaint against a law-enforcement agency," Hinojosa said.
"MCSO purports not to understand the underlying basis for the findings when MCSO's own actions and documents form the basis of these findings. We look forward to sitting down soon with MCSO, but we will not hesitate to take prompt legal action if we determine that MCSO is again failing to act in good faith."
According to reports, the two parties now have 60 days to privately negotiate an agreement, although it is safe to say that this highly charged situation might go public and it might get ugly before it gets better. As for Sheriff Joe? AZ Central summed as to how he feels:
Arpaio said his request for information was based on the simple fact that he could not defend himself against discrimination charges if he is not familiar with the details that Justice investigators used as the basis for the allegations.
"How can you negotiate if you don't even know what you're negotiating on?" Arpaio asked. "Right now, I'm saying it's politics, and everyone else is saying it. Let's see if they come up with all their facts. What are they going to do next, take me to court?"
Court is the likely landing spot for the case if Arpaio fails to cooperate with Justice Department investigators in reaching a settlement.
The sheriff's response asked Justice officials to let Arpaio know within two weeks whether investigators would be able to turn over the requested documents to the Sheriff's Office by late March.