ROCHESTER – A former Rochester police chief was appointed Friday by a federal judge to monitor an Arizona sheriff’s office that was found to have engaged in systematic racial profiling of Latinos in its immigration and traffic patrols.
Robert S. Warshaw, who once served as Rochester’s police chief 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, a former associate director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy during the Clinton administration, had been recommended by attorneys who won the lawsuit alleging profiling by Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s office. Warshaw 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 MCSO in compliance,” said Cecillia Wang, a lawyer who pressed the profiling case on behalf of a group of Latinos.
Arpaio, who had opposed the appointment of a monitor, said he’s not concerned about Warshaw’s appointment and will work with him.
“I’ve got nothing to hide,” the sheriff said.
Snow ruled in late May that Arpaio’s office singled out Latinos in its 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, his authority would be nullified.
Tom Liddy, an attorney representing Arpaio, declined to say whether Arpaio will challenge the appointment of a monitor in his appeal.
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 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.