9 On Your Side Continuing Coverage
Sheriff Estrada calls Arpaio findings 'disturbing,' 'unfortunate'
Reporter: Claire Doan
PHOENIX (KGUN9-TV) – Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada weighed in on the Justice Department’s findings of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio Friday, calling them “disturbing” and “unfortunate.”
The scathing report the Justice Department released Thursday outlined the office's discriminatory practices against Latinos.
Among the report's findings after a three-year investigation and hundreds of interviews: the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) unfairly targets Latinos and retaliates against those who criticize his politics, including government officials. Department of Justice officials also said deputies unfairly target Latino drivers on roadways, while detaining innocent ones on his immigration raids.
"President Obama and his band of merry men might as well erect their own pink neon sign at the Arizona-Mexico border saying 'Welcome All the Illegals,'" Arpaio said at a press conference.
When asked about the issue being about partisanship, Estrada said the impetus for the DOJ investigation wasn’t political motivated, but rather community initiated.
“I think it’s actually the people trying to bring up these issues – obviously the people who feel they’ve been unjustly attacked or singled out,” Estrada said.
Arpaio's attorneys claim the Sheriff's staff has been cooperative, turning over more than 80,000 pages of documents, arranging interviews and providing access. They say what the federal government calls the "wall of distrust" created between the Sheriff's Office and the Latino community is baloney.
"They might as well have made that quote up in a sealed room down at the Pentagon and shipped it down here to stick it to us," said Jack McIntyre, MSCO Deputy Chief.
Arpaio said the Obama Administration putting him out of the business of cracking down on illegal immigration.
“When you arrest on the streets and in our jails 50,000 people and you get a couple complaints, that happens … there’s no pattern,” Arpaio said.
However, Estrada said that in his county, even one complaint would draw concern.
“I think one would merit attention, obviously. A series would attract more attention. I think there are issues that need to be addressed,” Estrada told KGUN9 News.
Arpaio's Office has until Jan. 4 to respond to the allegations - or risk being sued by the Department of Justice. Arpaio's attorneys said they will try to continue cooperating with the federal government.
However, the Sheriff said he's not afraid to face the federal government in court.
“I’d like to see that justice is served. If justice is on his side, then it has to be recognized. And if it isn’t, it would be recognized as well,” Estrada said.