The fallout from a racial profiling ruling in federal court is still with us. Back in 2011, United States District Judge was presiding over a case that alleged racial profiling by deputies in the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department. The issue centered on the allegation that investigations by the Department, including traffic stops, were race-based. This, if proven, would be a violation of federal civil rights laws. Specifically, it was alleged that the MCSO “routinely and intentionally” targeted Hispanics.

The Injunction and the Violation

The plaintiffs in the case prevailed, and Judge Snow issued an injunction against the practice. During the case, evidence included a U.S. Justice Department finding that then-Sheriff Joe Arpaio oversaw the worst policy of racial profiling in the history of the country. And attorneys for the plaintiffs in the case claimed that it was Arpaio himself who set the tone for the racial discrimination. The injunction was largely upheld by the Court of Appeals.

After the dust settled, there were claims that Arpaio was actively and intentionally ignoring the ruling and encouraging deputies to do likewise. He was charged with and convicted of criminal contempt of court (as we noted in our blog), although he was later pardoned by President Trump. So what’s happened since the injunction was issued?

Reduction in Phoenix Traffic Stops

A report says that traffic stops in the greater Phoenix area are down by more than 50% after Judge Snow’s ruling. Some complain that the reason the stops are down is because officers are afraid of being criticized or being the subject of an internal affairs investigation. On the other hand, perhaps officers should be encouraged to think twice before pulling people over on traffic stops, After all, when there was no fear of consequences, a court found that the stops were racially motivated, and led to racial profiling on a massive scale.

Say what you will about constraints on police behavior. In this case, it looks like those constraints may have been necessary to put an end to police activity which illegally targeted Hispanics.

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CategoryRacial Profiling

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