The moral and human costs of Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s racist and flagrantly unconstitutional policies have been well-documented, and now, the financial costs have been quantified as well. The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office estimates that the many policy changes it was forced to institute after being sued by the Department of Justice will cost the office — or, more accurately, the taxpayers of Maricopa County — more than $20 million over the next two years. This includes the cost of enhanced officer training, more vehicle-mounted cameras to document traffic stops, more radios, and more — all to make sure Arpaio and his underlings stop singling out Latinos for persecution and harassment.
The Department of Justice sued Arpaio and his office in 2012, alleging multiple constitutional violations of the Latino residents in his county and general institutionalized racism within the office. As Bustle reported:
Arpaio ran a pretty horrific excuse for a Sheriff’s office, and it’s a small wonder he isn’t in prison. In addition to routine racial profiling and unlawful detainment of Latinos, he repeatedly violated women’s rights in ways more fitting for an Eli Roth film than a law enforcement office.
To take just one example: According to the DOJ’s complaint, a Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) officer once pulled over a five-month pregnant woman (and United States citizen) in her own driveway and demanded that she sit on the roof of her car. When she refused, the officer slammed her stomach-first into the car three times, dragged her into his cruiser and made her sit in the back seat without air conditioning for a half hour. She was subsequently given a citation for failing to provide proof of insurance, a citation that was subsequently dismissed. Miraculously, her baby was born healthy in 2011.
The DOJ won its case, and as a result, the office was ordered to institute major changes. For example, officers must now radio in the precise reason they’re stopping a vehicle before they pull somebody over, and once they do, the entire incident is to be recorded on audio and video. After that, the video of the traffic stop is cross-checked with the original radio report. The office also must hold community outreach meetings; ever the wily fox, Arpaio responded by scheduling the meetings in districts with as few Latino residents as possible.
To make sure he complies with the changes, the court also made Arpaio suffer the indignity of having a federal court-appointed babysitter oversee his implementation of the new policies. Oh, and the attorneys who won the case asked the judge to make Arpaio’s office pay $7.3 million in legal fees, a request that hasn’t been ruled on yet.
No matter how you slice it, the losers here are clear: Joe Arpaio and the residents of Maricopa County who keep electing him.