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Headed to court? MCSO and DOJ at odds

The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office and the Department of Justice are threatening to sue each other over an agreement to resolve racial discrimination claims.   MCSO agreed to work with the feds on the matter, but in a letter sent to the Justice Department, warned it may go to court if justice officials don’t provide more detailed information on their findings.  From Phoenix, KJZZ’s Paul Atkinson reports.

The Department of Justice released the findings of an investigation into alleged civil rights abuses by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office in mid December.  It gave MCSO until Wednesday to agree to address the problems. In its letter to the Justice Department, MCSO says it will agree to cooperate. But chief deputy Jack MacIntyre says he wants detailed proof of the allegations made against the agency. 

JACK MacINTYRE  “We are willing and very, very interested in rectifying any problems, but you can’t rest on this December 15 th letter that has no more substance than a bank of clouds.”

That Justice Department letter detailed that Latinos were four to nine times more likely to be pulled over by Sheriff’s deputies, that Latino inmates with limited English proficiency were denied services and activities, and that critics of Sheriff Joe Arpaio were targeted for retaliation.  MacIntyre says the few examples provided were not enough.

JACK MacINTYRE “We can not look at this and say let’s address a systemwide problem when you don’t even show us that it exists and you  give us absolutely no basis to come back to you and say you know, some of the things you are relying on are absolutely made up and unsubstantiated.”

The Justice Department may not be that forthcoming.  In a written statement, it questions the inability of the Sheriff’s Office to understand its findings when they were based on MCSO’s own actions and documents.  The statement says if MCSO wants to debate the facts instead of fixing the problems, that can be done by formal litigation.  In its letter, the Sheriff’s Office says it will not cower at the threat of litigation and is ready to take the matter to court if justice officials refuse to provide the information it seeks.  For KJZZ, I’m Paul Atkinson

Last Updated 7:58 pm January 4, 2011