Fox News forwards whitewash of Arpaio's record on transparency

››› ››› BROOKE OBIE

FoxNews.com whitewashed Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's record on transparency and racial profiling by uncritically reporting his lawyer's statements that there isn't "evidence" of racial profiling and that Arpaio's office is "transparent." In fact, a federal judge sanctioned Arpaio's office in February "for destroying evidence in a racial-profiling case."

FoxNews.com uncritically reports lawyer's claim that Arpaio's office is "transparent"

From an August 4 FoxNews.com article [emphasis added]:

The Justice Department has been investigating Arpaio's office in Phoenix since March 2009 for alleged discrimination and for unconstitutional searches and seizures. Arpaio says the inquiry is focused on his immigration efforts.

Robert Driscoll, a Washington lawyer representing Arpaio, told FoxNews.com that Arpaio has cooperated and accused the Justice Department of trying to make an example out of Arpaio as the Obama administration seeks to discourage states and local authorities from enforcing their own brand of immigration policy.

"I don't think there's any doubt," Driscoll said when asked whether he believed the investigation is politically motivated. "It's a media game."

Driscoll added that if Arpaio was guilty of racial profiling, there would be evidence.

"Could there be a police operation that is more transparent than Sheriff Arpaio's office?" he said. "There are camera crews, reality shows following him as his deputies round up folks in sweeps. He announces them on TV three days before doing it."

A spokeswoman for the Justice Department declined to comment beyond the letter to Arpaio.

But judge sanctioned Arpaio's office "for destroying evidence in a racial-profiling case"

Arpaio sued by Latinos alleging racial discrimination. The Associated Press reported on February 14:

Since early 2008, Arpaio has run 13 immigration and crimes sweeps consisting of deputies and posse volunteers who flood an area of a city -- in some cases heavily Latino areas -- to seek out traffic violators and arrest other offenders.

The handful of Latinos who filed the lawsuit against Arpaio's office alleged that officers based some traffic stops on the race of Hispanics who were in vehicles, had no probable cause to pull them over and made the stops so they could inquire about their immigration status.

Arpaio is known for tough jail policies, including housing inmates in canvas tents, and pushing the bounds for how local law enforcement agencies can confront illegal immigration.

The Arizona Republic: "[Sheriff Arpaio's] office has acknowledged it destroyed records" from a racial-profiling case. In a February 13 article, The Arizona Republic reported on U.S. District Court Judge G. Murray Snow's sanction order against Arpaio's office "for destroying evidence in a racial-profiling case." The article noted that "[t]he Sheriff's Office has denied it engages in racial profiling, but the office has acknowledged it destroyed records from those sweeps and deleted e-mails among employees regarding" the racial-profiling case Melendres v. Arpaio. A February 4 Republic report noted that Tim Casey, an attorney representing the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, "admitted to U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow that deputies destroyed 'stat sheets' generated in Arpaio's controversial 'crime suppression operations.' "

Phoenix New Times: Destruction of "stat sheets" damages "the plaintiffs' ability to prove that the department is racially profiling." The Phoenix New Times reported on November 21, 2009, that Sgt. Manuel Madrid "admitted that he had been deleting e-mails related to the sweeps and shredding so-called 'stat sheets' submitted by individual deputies and posse members." The report further stated:

Madrid made clear that he destroyed all stat sheets as a matter of course after collecting data from the sheets, which included information on stops made by sheriff's deputies, any criminal arrests, citations issued, and the number of hours the deputies worked. The stat sheets also included a section for notes by the deputies or posse members involved.

Those remarks are not collected by the MCSO, and so are now lost, thus damaging the plaintiffs' ability to prove that the department is racially profiling, which is the point of the lawsuit. Other pertinent information is lost when those stat sheets are shredded, as well as the ability to cross-reference them with the final MCSO reports.

[...]

Because each sweep has been performed by 100 to 200 deputies and posse members, and because there have been 13 sweeps so far, plaintiffs' lawyers estimate that "hundreds, if not thousands, of stat sheets would have been available to Plaintiffs but for Defendants' shredding of the documents."

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