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Court official in profiling case says Arpaio's office has distant relationship with community

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PHOENIX — An official appointed by a judge to monitor Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's office in a racial profiling case says the police agency has a distant relationship with the community that it serves.

The criticism was leveled Thursday in the first quarterly report by court monitor Robert Warshaw on efforts to remedy systematic racial profiling found by a judge in the agency's traffic patrols. Warshaw said the agency has made progress in meeting some goals, but hasn't yet complied with many remedies ordered by the judge.

The sheriff's office wasn't expected to be in compliance with the judge's remedy orders at this point in the case.

Warshaw said the agency doesn't appear to embrace community collaboration or the sensitivities of those affected by its conduct that came under attack in the case.

"We are only in the early stages of this process but at this point, we have yet to see the emergence of a vision for the future that comports with the sensitivities and resolve of an agency determined to be the servants of all the people," Warshaw said.

Tim Casey, an attorney representing the sheriff's office, said Warshaw's criticism doesn't reflect the agency's experience with the community. "It's just an odd, inappropriate comment to so broadly paint Maricopa County as being distant from the sheriff's office," Casey said.

The monitor is charged with carrying out a community engagement requirement aimed at building public confidence in the police agency. The sheriff's office originally had that duty, but it was turned over to Warshaw after the agency expressed opposition to holding community meetings and working with a community advisory board.

Warshaw is scheduled to hold a community meeting Wednesday in Guadalupe, the location of one of Arpaio's first major immigration patrols.

U.S. District Judge Murray Snow ruled in May 2013 that the sheriff's office had singled out Latinos in immigration and regular traffic patrols and unreasonably prolonged the detentions of people during traffic stops. Arpaio denies the allegation and has appealed the ruling.

The judge is requiring Arpaio's office to install video cameras in patrol vehicles, conduct additional training to ensure officers aren't making unconstitutional traffic stops and to collect data on traffic stops.

The court monitor said he believes the attempts to improve the agency are well received by its rank-and-file employees and noted the sheriff's office was working toward compliance with new disciplinary policies and the development of a new traffic-stop data form.

But Warshaw said the agency hasn't created a computerized database aimed at identifying potentially problematic behaviors, such as racial profiling. The agency also hasn't issued a request for proposals for the video cameras.

Dan Pochoda, one of the lawyers who pushed the profiling case against Arpaio's office, said no one was expecting the sheriff's office to be in compliance at this point. "There is good reason to believe at this point that they are seeking to comply," he said.

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