DOJ Investigation Reveals Discriminatory Treatment of Latinos by Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office

December 15 2011


Joseph Rendeiro
(202) 776-1566

NCLR applauds DOJ and DHS for taking quick action to address alarming findings

Washington—NCLR (National Council of La Raza) today hailed the swift response of the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Department of Home Security (DHS) following the release of DOJ’s findings in its ongoing civil rights investigation of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO). The department said it has reason to believe that under the leadership of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, MCSO has engaged in a pattern of unconstitutional conduct that violates federal law, confirming that MCSO’s practices unfairly target and discriminate against Latinos. In response, DHS announced that it was terminating its 287(g) agreement with Sheriff Arpaio’s office, effective immediately.

“Today’s findings cement the fact that Arpaio is not ‘the nation’s toughest sheriff,’ he’s America’s worst sheriff. Clearly, MCSO has not fulfilled its duty to the residents of Maricopa County—to protect their civil rights and to keep them safe—and this has come at an especially high cost to Latinos,” said Janet Murguía, President and CEO of NCLR.

“Thanks to the diligent work of Thomas E. Perez, the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice, a much-needed spotlight has been shined on the appalling injustices that have not only been authorized, but also encouraged by Sheriff Arpaio. We also commend Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s long-overdue decision to end the department’s agreement with MCSO. These are key steps to ending the demonization and dehumanization of Latinos and others in this county,” continued Murguía.

Among the results of this investigation, DOJ found reasonable cause to believe that MCSO has engaged in discriminatory policing practices, including unlawful stops, detentions, and arrests of Hispanics, and discriminatory jail practices against Hispanic inmates who speak limited English by punishing them and denying them critical services. MCSO also engaged in retaliation against individuals who criticized MCSO’s policies and practices, such as its discriminatory treatment of Latinos.

The Department of Justice indicated that it is seeking a court-enforceable agreement and will attempt to work with MCSO to develop and implement a comprehensive reform plan with the judicial oversight needed to address the violations of the Constitution and federal law.

“As a life-long resident of Arizona, I completely agree with Mr. Perez’s concerns that the community has built up a completely justified wall of mistrust against MCSO over years, which seriously calls into question their ability to adequately serve and protect the residents of Maricopa County. This is unacceptable. The public safety of all Arizonans depends on a relationship of trust between communities and law enforcement,” added Daniel Ortega, a Phoenix attorney and NCLR’s Board Chair. “We welcome change and support DOJ’s commitment to either implementing reform or taking legal action against MCSO should they choose to continue down their misguided path.”

NCLR—the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States—works to improve opportunities for Hispanic Americans. For more information on NCLR, please visit or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.


Issues: Arizona’s SB 1070, Immigration
Geography:California, Far West, Midwest, Northeast, Southeast, Texas