Sheriff Penzone thinks MCSO taking too long on racial profiling inquiries

Jun 10, 2021, 12:31 PM
(Facebook Photo/Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)...
(Facebook Photo/Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)
(Facebook Photo/Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)

PHOENIX – Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone said Thursday his office was working on a solution to address the backlog of internal affairs cases tied to racial profiling in traffic stops.

The sheriff was up against a Thursday deadline whether to contest a claim to he was in contempt of court for noncompliance with a judge-ordered makeover of his agency’s internal affairs investigations.

“Our attorneys are working on some things. We’re failing to meet a particular paragraph [of the court order], where the judge feels that we should do a better job in the timeliness of these investigations. And I don’t disagree with him,” Penzone told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News.

The court requires the sheriff’s office to complete the investigations within 60 or 85 days, depending on which operation within the agency handles the cases.

Former Sheriff Joe Arpaio was found guilty of criminal contempt four years ago, for disregarding a 2011 judge’s order to stop zeroing in on Hispanic drivers for traffic stops while he was sheriff.

Arpaio was pardoned of the misdemeanor conviction by then-President Donald Trump in summer 2017, a few months after Penzone took office.

Two court-ordered agency overhauls followed a 2013 profiling verdict against Arpaio – one in the traffic enforcement division and a another for internal affairs.

“This is not about what went on in the past, where there was dishonesty, where there was defiance, where there were things that just were in conflict with the law,” Penzone said.

“The reason that the court and judge is upset isn’t because we’re ignoring or hiding investigations. We’ve completed upwards of 3,000 cases in the last four years.”

Penzone added the agency was required to take every complaint. “Whether it’s anonymous, whether it’s an employee who left the office years ago, regardless, and to do a full and complete investigation of those, he said.”

Last week, U.S. District Judge Murray Snow said it made more sense to spend money fixing the problems rather than in court arguing over compliance.

“I need to own the responsibility we fall short in some capacities,” Penzone said.

“We’re looking for solutions right now, we’re trying to work with the plaintiff’s class to make sure what we believe are solutions that can lead us to these outcomes are things that are agreeable and accomplishable.”

MCSO released a study Tuesday that revealed traffic stops of Hispanic drivers in the Valley were likelier to last longer and end in searches or arrests than stops with white drivers.

“The report tries to identify patterns of implicit bias,” Penzone said. “… There are circumstances where we have bias that may face discipline and potentially termination. Thus far, I am not aware of any cases where a traffic stop led to facts that were specifically saying it was biased policing.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Lifetime Windows & Doors

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

(Facebook Photo/City Government of Chandler, Arizona)...

Chandler City Council approves policy to prohibit acts of discrimination

The Chandler City Council voted 6-1 to adopt an ordinance that prohibits discrimination during Monday’s meeting.
1 day ago
(Photo by Mike Simons/Getty Images)...
Associated Press

Execution warrant requested for Arizona death row inmate

The Arizona Attorney General’s Office has requested the state Supreme Court issue a warrant of execution for death row inmate Aaron Gunches.
1 day ago
(Facebook Photo/Angel Zamora)...

2 Phoenix police officers charged with assault in October incident with shooting suspect

Charges against two Phoenix police officers accused of assaulting a shooting suspect during an October arrest have been submitted to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office.
1 day ago
(Screenshot via Glendale Police Department)...

Glendale police said officer who activated Taser on shoplifting suspect 14 times followed policy

Glendale police said an officer who activated a Taser 14 times on a shoplifting suspect Tuesday acted within department policy.
1 day ago
(Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Photo/Andrew Pielage)...

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West in Scottsdale to host 1st holiday experience

The Scottsdale winter home and studio of renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright will host two weekends of holiday-themed activities open to the public for the first time.
1 day ago
Teofilo Acuna Gutierrez (Photo courtesy of DPS)...

Silver Alert canceled for 78-year-old man last seen in Phoenix

A Silver Alert was canceled Wednesday evening in Phoenix for a 78-year-old man who hasn't been spotted since Friday.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet edges out cable for everyday use

In a world where technology drives so much of our daily lives, a lack of high-speed internet can be a major issue.
(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.
Quantum Fiber

Stream 4K and more with powerful, high-speed fiber internet

Picking which streaming services to subscribe to are difficult choices, and there is no room for internet that cannot handle increased demands.
Sheriff Penzone thinks MCSO taking too long on racial profiling inquiries