PHOENIX Federal authorities said Wednesday that they plan to sue Arizonas Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his office over allegations of civil-rights violations, including the racial profiling of Latinos.
The U.S. Justice Department has been seeking an agreement requiring Arpaios office to train officers in how to make constitutional traffic stops, collect data on people arrested in traffic stops and reach out to Latinos to assure them that the department is there to also protect them.
Arpaio has denied the racial-profiling allegations and has claimed that allowing a court monitor would mean that every policy decision would have to be cleared through an observer and would nullify his authority.
DOJ officials told a lawyer for Arpaio on April 3 that the lawmans refusal of a court-appointed monitor was a deal-breaker that would end settlement negotiations and result in a federal lawsuit.
The notice of intent to file civil action came Wednesday from Assistant U.S. Attorney General Thomas Perez in a letter to an Arpaio lawyer.
Perez, who heads the DOJs civil-rights division, said it has been more than 100 days since the sheriffs office received the Justice Departments findings report and federal authorities havent met with the Maricopa County Sheriffs Office counsel since Feb. 6 to discuss the terms of a consent agreement.
At a news conference Wednesday afternoon, Arpaio defended himself in the face of the pending lawsuit.
If they sue, well go to court. And then well find out the real story, he said. Theres lots of miscommunication emanating from Washington. They broke off communications.
Theyre telling me how to run my organization. Id like to get this resolved, but Im not going to give up my authority to the federal government. Its as simple as that, Arpaio said.