Delegating or distancing? Arpaio says decisions made by senior staff

July 25, 2012

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio took the witness stand Tuesday in the civil rights case against him. In his testimony Arpaio asserted he never ordered his staff to racially profile Hispanics. KJZZ's NAR was at the hearing in Phoenix and has this report.

Puente protestProtesters from Puente Arizona at the intersection of Washington Street and 4th Avenue in Phoenix on Tuesday. (Photo by Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez - KJZZ)

NADINE ARROYO RODRIGUEZ: For more than five hours Sheriff Arpaio was questioned about his policy and immigration enforcement. During his testimony he said he's against anyone who racially profiles, and that he would never do it. He said his focus has always been on reducing crime and illegal immigration as prescribed by state statutes. Arpaio referenced arizona's human smuggling and employer sanctions laws. When asked how and when the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office decided to conduct supression sweeps, he said his senior staff made those decisions. Attorney Timothy Casey defended Arpaio's testimony.

TIMOTHY CASEY: What is shows is a chief executive who delegates properly to trained professional law enforcement officers that are independent of the elected official.

ARROYO RODRIGUEZ: But attorneys for the plaintiff say Arpaio is not delegating, but distancing himself from his actions. Lead council Stanley Young says the sheriff's lack of implementing policies against racial profiling and his public comments on immigration have allowed for systematic racial profiling of Latinos in the MCSO.

STANLEY YOUNG: I think the only way that the department is going to reform is going to be through an order of the court. And that's what we're seeking.

ARROYO RODRIGUEZ: Arpaio has completed his testimony other witnesses are still scheduled to testify. The trial is expected to wrap up next week.

DENNIS LAMBERT: Four people have been arrested for blocking an intersection outside the federal courthouse as Sheriff Arpaio testified Tuesday. About 50 protesters had staged a civil disobedience protest near the courthouse. Four illegal immigrants held a banner that read, "No Papers, No Fear."