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Judge says Arpaio will 'immediately' issue corrective statement in racial profiling case

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PHOENIX — A federal judge ordered Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio to immediately issue a statement correcting mischaracterizations his staff made about court findings in a racial-profiling case, according to court documents filed Thursday.

U.S. District Judge Murray Snow said a new summary of key findings would be given to employees in Arpaio's office without the sheriff's signature of approval.

Snow last year concluded Arpaio's office systematically racially profiled Latinos in its immigration and regular traffic patrols. Arpaio has appealed the ruling.

The judge said he could no longer wait for Arpaio to help write a corrective statement.

"The misinformation, misunderstanding, and confusion caused by the inaccurate statements and inappropriate training that has occurred throughout the MCSO cannot wait until such future training or briefing may be approved and implemented to be corrected," Snow wrote. "They require immediate attention."

Arpaio said Thursday he has already directed all personnel to read the seven-page statement. He said "the court should have every confidence that I will direct this activity to its timely completion."

In the past month, two sheriff's officials admitted to erroneously summarizing Snow's findings. Deputy Chief David Trombi was summoned by Snow after a video showed Trombi making several misstatements at a March 15 community meeting, such as saying the judge found deputies had detained Hispanic drivers 14 seconds longer than non-Hispanics. Trombi also said that Snow based his court findings on the fact that only two sheriff's deputies used race as a factor in determining whether to arrest someone.

Snow last month chided Arpaio and Chief Deputy Jerry Sheridan for similar errors.

Arpaio and Sheridan had initially agreed to join with the plaintiffs in the case to draft a document accurately correcting all the misstatements. However, in court documents, Snow says the sheriff backed off signing the statement because of subsequent news coverage. In addition, Arpaio said he would only give signed approval if certain changes were made, according to Snow.

The judge said Arpaio submitted changes he wanted but past a court-mandated deadline to get approval from the court and the plaintiffs. However, Arpaio said he was satisfied that the statement was being issued without his signature.

"The court previously requested my signature to be part of this statement, which I opposed. So I am pleased that today the court recognized my position on the matter and my signature will be not a part of this statement," Arpaio said.

The judge ordered that all Marciopa County Sheriff's Office personnel, including volunteer posse members, read the summary within the next two weeks. Employees then must sign a form stating that they read and understand the summary. The Sheriff's Office will provide copies of the forms to a court-appointed monitor who is also tasked with overseeing new training.

Under Snow's ruling, Arpaio's office is required to install video cameras in hundreds of patrol vehicles, set up a seven-person team of sheriff's employees to help implement the judge's orders, and carry out additional training to ensure officers aren't making unconstitutional traffic stops.

Snow also ordered all Sheriff's Office command staff with a ranking of sergeant or higher to read the judge's initial 142-page order outlining the findings of the case. They will also have to sign a form stating that they read and understood it. The monitor will verify everyone's compliance, even if it means questioning Marciopa County Sheriff's Office personnel, Snow said.

Snow set a status conference in the case for May 7. He said if this order has still not been fully implemented, he may require Arpaio to appear for questioning.

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