Joe Arpaio, Serial Racist, Brings Infamous "Crime Suppression Operation" (aka, Racial-Profiling Patrol) to Tempe
Only the most credulous of individuals could eschew skepticism given Arpaio's history of bigotry.
Local activist Lydia Guzman of the League of United Latin American Citizens is one of the skeptical. From the beginning of Arpaio's anti-immigrant sweeps, she has been part of a group of volunteers who've monitored Arpaio's actions and documented abuse.
She noted that Mexican Independence Day is Monday, and people of Mexican heritage will be celebrating all weekend.
Also, Saturday is the night of a big welterweight title fight in Las Vegas between American boxer Floyd Mayweather and Mexican pugilist Saul Alvarez, which will be broadcast via pay-per-view.
"This is Arpaio's last opportunity to round up brown people before he gets a monitor," Guzman told me. "Over the weekend, people are either going to boxing match parties or to bars. It's like a Mexican Superbowl."
Which is why she and a team of volunteers will be monitoring police activity via scanners, deploying with video cameras to document arrests should there be any sign that the MCSO is up to its bad, not-so-old ways.
TPD spokesman Steve Carbajal defended the TPD's joint operation with MCSO, saying that TPD and MCSO have partnered before on suppression efforts involving alcohol.
"I want to be very clear that this operation is targeted at youth alcohol violations in the City of Tempe and the violent crimes associated with this problem," he told New Times in an e-mailed response to questions. "We are simply targeting criminal behavior in our community fueled by alcohol."
"With respect to your question about what to tell the Latino community to reassure them they will not `be harassed and racial profiled by the MCSO' I submit the following. The Tempe Police Department has operational command of this task force, as we have in the past enforcement efforts. We have been diligent in our communication efforts with our community regarding this being a continuation of our Safe & Sober, Youth Alcohol enforcement."
(You can read Carbajal's entire statement below.)
Attorney Dan Pochoda of the ACLU of Arizona said that he understood why some community members would regard the MCSO's participation in this "Safe and Sober" campaign with a jaundiced eye, particularly when Arpaio's calling it a "crime suppression" operation.
"I have no doubt he was bursting to use that phrase again," Pochoda told me. "As you know, in the past, it was a euphemism for going after people of color for immigration violations. But there are other crime suppression operations in life...some very valid."
"There's nothing, so far, that implicates the findings of the order in our case. The fact that he use the same language doesn't do it."
I understand what Pochoda's saying. We will need proof that Arpaio is violating the judge's order. Proof the weekend may yet bring. (The operation begins Thursday at 8 p.m.)
Still, it would be best for the community not to have to worry about Arpaio's shenanigans, his inveterate lying, and his ever-present bad faith.
By including the MCSO in this operation, the TPD has handed the MCSO a PR bonanza, the price of which will be the trust of many who live in or visit Tempe.
Below is Sgt. Carbajal's response to my inquiry regarding TPD's cooperation with the MCSO:
This weekend's operation is a continuation of our Safe and Sober campaign. MCSO - who has concurrent jurisdiction in the City of Tempe - has been partnering with us since the start. We have also partnered with MCSO on a number of operations in the past. Some examples include Tempe Officers assisting Deputies with lake patrols, Extra Patrols on Mill Avenue, Participation in DUI task forces and resource sharing for large scale events such as 4th of July and New Year's eve. The common theme in our partnership has been alcohol enforcement.
It is not uncommon for Law Enforcement Agencies to partner and share resources on matters of crime problems that pose a significant risk to public safety. The Sheriff's Office has specialized resources to contribute to combating the issue of youth alcohol violations and alcohol fueled violence in Tempe.
I want to be very clear that this operation is targeted at youth alcohol violations in the City of Tempe and the violent crimes associated with this problem. We are simply targeting criminal behavior in our community fueled by alcohol.
By suppression we are dedicating our resources in a specific area on a specific problem. The area of focus for this campaign is a two mile radius around the ASU main campus. This area is where we are seeing the vast majority of party calls, youth alcohol violations, and other serious violent crimes per the loud party report compiled by our Strategic Planning and Research Center. I can pass along the report if you are interested.
Furthermore, the high number of arrests (*see below for first phase statistics) indicates that there is still work to be done to keep our community safe. As previously stated by Chief Ryff, this operation will continue until a significant impact has been made on the issues identified.
With respect to your question about what to tell the Latino community to reassure them they will not "be harassed and racial profiled by the MCSO" I submit the following. The Tempe Police Department has operational command of this task force, as we have in the past enforcement efforts. We have been diligent in our communication efforts with our community regarding this being a continuation of our Safe & Sober, Youth Alcohol enforcement.
This is an exciting [time] in Tempe. We are encouraging people to come to Tempe to have fun. However, we are asking people to be responsible and lawful.
*Statistics for first 9 days of enforcement:
Total Arrests - 1367
Total Cites - 3788
Total Contacts or Stops - 5815
Total DUI Arrests: 309
Average Blood Alcohol Content: .136
Minor in Possession of Alcohol Arrest: 125
Minor in Consumption of Alcohol: 381
Under 18 years, Minor in Possession of Alcohol =14
Total Loud Party Calls: 129
Nuisance Notices: 65
Party Notices w Minors in Possession of Alcohol: 60
Sergeant Steve Carbajal
Tempe Police Department
Media Relations Unit