Judge allows Arpaio to exempt some from mandate

PHOENIX - A federal judge is partially granting Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's request to exempt some sheriff's employees and volunteers from a requirement that they read a summary of key findings in a racial-profiling case against the police agency.

But the approval granted Tuesday by District Judge Murray Snow's does not provide the broad exemptions that Arpaio's lawyers sought. Instead, it only covers people who do volunteer teaching and religious work in jails and certain other individuals personally certified by Arpaio with his signature.

Those other individuals, whether employees or other volunteers such as posse members, cannot include people involved in any official or off-duty law enforcement functions or who speak on behalf of the Sheriff's Office, Snow's order said.

Snow on April 17 ordered deputies, civilian employees and volunteers such as posse members to read the summary. In setting the requirement, Snow had concluded Arpaio mischaracterized a ruling in which Snow ruled that the agency racially profiled Latinos in its immigration and traffic patrols.

Arpaio's lawyers on April 23 had asked Snow to exempt posse members, jail personnel and others such as aviation officers who they don't routinely perform traffic stops.

Attorneys who won the ruling responded to the request by saying Snow would have ample justification for the requirement to be applied on a broad basis.

Snow's order Tuesday said he wasn't willing to issue blanket exemptions for posse members because many apparently are involved in law enforcement or provide related support.  And jail personnel may have transported detainees during enforcement operations and work on off-duty jobs involving security and traffic control, Snow said.

He also declined to issue sweeping exemptions for administrative and support personnel.

"The court certainly does not wish to create a category of persons within the MCSO who can mischaracterize the court's statements to others within the MCSO with impunity," Snow wrote. "The court's best remedy to such situations, without restricting the ability of the sheriff or members of his command staff to speak publicly, is to make sure that all MCSO personnel have direct familiarity with its order."

Snow last year concluded Arpaio's office had systematically racially profiled Latinos in its immigration and regular traffic patrols and unreasonably prolonged the detentions of people during traffic stops. Arpaio has vigorously denied his agency racially profiles people and has appealed the ruling.

The Sheriff's Office has been ordered by the judge to install video cameras in hundreds of patrol vehicles, set up a seven-person team of sheriff's employees to help carry out the judge's orders and give additional training to sheriff's deputies in an effort to ensure they aren't making unconstitutional traffic stops.

Since mid-March, three sheriff's officials, including Arpaio, have twice been ordered to appear in court to account for inaccurate statements about the profiling decision. The judge said the inaccurate statements have led to misunderstandings about the ruling within the Sheriff's Office.

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