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Fixing Anti-Immigration Sheriff’s Acts Of Racial Bias Will Cost Arizona Taxpayers At Least $21.9 Million

By Esther Yu-Hsi Lee

"Fixing Anti-Immigration Sheriff’s Acts Of Racial Bias Will Cost Arizona Taxpayers At Least $21.9 Million"

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CREDIT: youtube.com

The cost to combat systemic racial profiling of Latinos by an anti-immigration sheriff’s office will cost taxpayers more than $20 million over the next two years, according to documents submitted by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office in Arizona. Under a federal judge’s May 2013 ruling, Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his officers must implement changes, like improving training and technology equipment, to show that the sheriff’s office will no longer systemically single out Latinos during traffic and immigration stops.

The estimated $21.9 million price tag of the court recommendations includes a seven-member unit “to implement changes recommended by the court order,” additional vehicles, mounted cameras (for the patrol vehicles), radios (to call in the reason for stopping a driver before officers can approach a stopped vehicle), equipment to record all stops with audio and video, supplies for the unit, salaries, and employee benefits.

The cost of implementing the recommendations for the 2014 fiscal year will be $7.7 million, while the cost for the 2015 fiscal year will be $14.2 million. After the 2015 fiscal year, the annual cost to maintain the program will be about $10 million. Maricopa County has already spent $1.6 million on legal costs and expenses and is expected to spend more as Arpaio plans to appeal the judge’s ruling.

In the meantime, the Sheriff’s office is making minimal efforts to honor the court’s order. For example, to meet the court requirement to hold community-outreach meetings, the Sheriff’s personnel chose seven districts with few Latino residents. Arpaio initially declined to show up at the meetings, saying that he “didn’t want to favor one community over the others.” But rather than announcing that he would show up at a meeting, Arpaio tweeted that he had just left one of the sparsely-attended meetings.

Even as Arpaio makes insincere efforts to address racial biases (a persistent problem that resulted in an expensive class-action lawsuit), years of racial profiling may likely put public safety at risk. Researchers found that immigrants are less likely to report crimes to the police because they are afraid of being asked their immigration status.

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