Another side of Arpaio revealed under oath
Deposition for civil rights suit compels sheriff to account for past statements
Dec. 31, 2009 04:15 PM
12 News .
Joe Arpaio is the self proclaimed "toughest sheriff in America", not afraid of criminals, politicians, protestors or anyone who gets in his way. But a different side of the sheriff is revealed as he answers questions under oath in a nearly seven-hour deposition.
Arpaio and his deputies are the targets of a federal civil rights lawsuit which makes allegations of racial profiling during the highly publicized illegal immigration sweeps by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office in 2007. Arpaio publicly took the lead role in the controversial sweeps, and vehemently derided any public officials—including other law enforcement agencies—who raised objections to the sweeps.
Last year the Arizona Department of Public Safety pulled more than a million dollars in crime suppression funds from Arpaio's office because of concerns that he was using the money mainly to round up illegal immigrants instead of taking known criminals off the street. Then-Governor Janet Napolitano supported DPS in yanking the funding. Arpaio defied the state's decision, angrily saying, "They wanted to cut my head off. They wanted to take away my money. It's not going to work." And he taunted Napolitano by demanding, "I just want my money back. In fact I want her to double it."
Deposition videotapes obtained exclusively by 12 News show an Arpaio who is soft-spoken, humble and at times has difficulty remembering statements made by himself or his public relations staff. At one point, plaintiffs attorney David Bodney asked Arpaio about one of the numerous news releases his office sends out.
BODNEY: You said that MCSO was targeting profile vehicles and quickly becoming a full-fledged anti-immigration agency. Do you remember issuing a press release on that subject?
ARPAIO: I don't remember.
A few moments later:
BODNEY: And the line between the headline reads, and I quote, hundreds of deputies/volunteer posse targeting profile vehicles, close quote. Do you see that?
ARPAIO: Uh-hum yes.
BODNEY: What does it mean to target profile vehicles?
ARPAIO: Once again, I didn't write the press release. The deposition also asked the sheriff about his provocative statements on immigration, including the subtitle of his own book, Joe's Law:
BODNEY: Do you still view illegal immigration as a threat to our country as "Joe's Law" says on its cover?
ARPAIO: I don't think I put that title up there.
BODNEY: That was your co-author's title?
ARPAIO: or the publisher. You know how that works.
BODNEY: Uh-huh. but I think you testified that illegal immigration is in your view a threat to America.
ARPAIO: No I think when you say "threat" it's not like a terrorist threat. Bodney asked Arpaio about a typically blunt comment attributed to the sheriff in GQ Magazine.
BODNEY: Second paragraph, and I am looking at a statement that says "You know what it is? It's this civil rights, all that crap." Close quote. Do you remember making that statement to the reporter this year?
ARPAIO: I don't remember I have so many reporters to talk to.
BODNEY: But is that your view of this racial profiling allegation, that it is just civil rights crap?
ARPAIO: Well I am not going to get into all the facts why I feel that way, but I do realize it's political, and I - I have full confidence in my staff, how they conduct themselves in this illegal immigration.
The attorney, David Bodney, also does legal work for 12 News and in recent years has represented 12 news in numerous public records negotiations with MCSO. In this case, Bodney is not working for 12 News, but for the plaintiffs in the civil rights case.
Click here to read Arpaio's full deposition
Or the Indy Media file.