At a civil-contempt hearing Thursday, a plaintiff’s attorney grilled Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio on the execution of an internal investigation that followed accusations his department violated an injunction to halt racial profiling.
Arpaio repeatedly said he wasn’t directly involved with the investigation into his officers. He said he left it up to his subordinates.
“I never get involved in those types of investigations,” Arpaio said. “I delegate.”
Arpaio appeared before U.S. District Judge Murray Snow, who filed the injunction in 2011 to halt racial profiling during traffic stops.
The sheriff’s office has since completed an in-house investigation of the claims. Chief of Detention Mike Olson, who made the final decision in the internal investigation, concluded no violation of the injunction was made.
Responding to attorney Stanley Young, who is representing the American Civil Liberties Union, Arpaio answered repeatedly that he didn’t know the intricacies of the internal investigation. “I don’t have all the details,” he answered at one point.
Young went on to question the validity of Olson’s investigation, as it forced him to scrutinize his superior, Chief Deputy Jerry Sheridan.
Sheridan faced similar aggressive questioning by attorneys earlier in the week concerning the confiscation of hundreds of IDs collected from traffic stops made after the injunction.
Arpaio said he found no room for conflict in the findings “because of the character of the person (Olson) making the decision and his experience.”
“I don’t have all the details, but I stand by the decision,” Arpaio said of Olson’s report.
Young asked whether Arpaio subjected himself to investigation along with the rest of the staff, to which the sheriff said no.
“I don’t know if I could make that decision of myself,” he said.
Arpaio said that “as the leader, I take responsibility” for the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, but “the nuts and bolts” of the staff activity is delegated to others.
Arpaio was also asked several times if he considered bringing in a monitor to conduct an independent investigation, but he consistently shot down the thought.
“I don’t think the monitor had any authority to investigate our people,” Arpaio said.
However, Young played a clip of Arpaio on the stand on March 25 of this year, in which Arpaio stated using a monitor would be a “possibility” for the internal investigation.
“I have no objection for the monitor conduction investigation,” he said in the tape.
He confirmed these previous claims Thursday but said there is no longer room for a monitor.
“Everything changes when you run a large organization,” Arpaio said. “Anything is possible.”