In a battle that has been brewing for months, the United States Department of Justice has turned up the heat, threatening to sue the Maricopa County Sheriffs Office if the department refuses to cooperate with a federal investigation into mistreatment of detainees, including charges of racial discrimination and unlawful searches and seizures. Arpaio and his attorneys claim to be cooperating with the investigation, but the feds see it differently.
Originally, the Justice Department had given the Arpaio and the Sheriffs Department until August 17th to turn over the requested documents. Lack of compliance by the department could cost the county millions of dollars in federal funds, a risk that concerns many county officials. Withholding the funds would devastate the budget, gutting countless programs.
Arpaio, for the most part, has remained defiant and undeterred, refusing to alter his tactics, including his now notorious ‘crime sweeps’, which despite the national attention, have produced few meaningful arrests.
The seventy-eight year old sheriff began his career in law enforcement as a beat cop in the Washington DC area before relocating to Las Vegas, Nevada in 1957. He later worked for the DEA for over twenty-five years before eventually moving to Arizona.
Arpaio has held the office of Maricopa County Sheriff since 1992. He often makes headlines for housing inmates in outdoor tents during the excruciating summer heat, and feeding the prisoners green Bologna.
According to the information provided to the media by the Justice department, Arpaio and his office has until ”no later than the close of business on Friday, August 27th, 2010” to turn over the requested documents.