Reps. call for probe of Ariz. sheriff

Feb. 13, 2009 at 8:59 PM   |   0 comments

WASHINGTON, Feb. 13 (UPI) -- Four members of Congress Friday called on the Justice Department to look into charges of misconduct by an Arizona county sheriff known for 'get-tough' policies.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich.; Immigration Subcommittee Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif.; Constitution Subcommittee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y.; and Crime Subcommittee Chairman Bobby Scott, D-Va.; asked Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to investigate allegations against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Conyers' office said in a news release.

The release, posted on Conyers' Web site, alleges Arpaio "has repeatedly demonstrated disregard for the rights of Hispanics in the Phoenix metropolitan area."

"Under the guise of immigration enforcement, his staff has conducted raids in residential neighborhoods in a manner condemned by the community as racial profiling," the statement said.

Conyers' statement said Arpaio subjected detainees to public display and "ritual humiliation" Feb. 4 when he invited media coverage of the transfer of immigrant detainees to a segregated area of a tent city jail -- and said Arpaio's policies have provoked lawsuits that have forced Maricopa County to pay out millions of dollars in settlements involving dead or injured inmates.

"Racial profiling and segregation are simply not acceptable," Conyers said. "Media stunts and braggadocio are no substitute for fair and effective law enforcement."

"Sheriff Arpaio has consistently abused his office in violation of federal law," Nadler said.

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