PHOENIX — An official appointed to monitor Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's office in a racial profiling case will hold a community meeting in Guadalupe — the site of a 2008 immigration operation that helped launch a battle over the sheriff's signature immigration patrols.
The purpose of the Wednesday meeting being held by court monitor Robert Warshaw is to inform the public of changes being made at Arpaio's office in response to a 2013 court ruling that concluded the agency had racially profiled Latinos in its immigration and traffic patrols.
Over two days in April 2008, a large number of deputies flooded the heavily Hispanic town, stopping drivers for traffic violations and other minor offenses. People living there complained that they were racially profiled. Thirty-three of the 47 people arrested in the patrol had Hispanic names.
Mayor Rebecca Jimenez, who believed the operation was meant to raise Arpaio's profile for his re-election campaign that year, had tried unsuccessfully to get him to stop the patrol and questioned the authenticity of his stated purpose for the operation.
Guadalupe, which relies on the sheriff's office to provide police services, threatened to sever its ties with Arpaio's office but has maintained its contract with the agency after failing to find other police departments willing to provide protection.
"If he wants to make everything right, the sheriff should go into Guadalupe and offer a public apology," said Lydia Guzman, a civil rights advocate.
In an interview Tuesday, Arpaio said he has no regrets about launching the 2008 patrol.
"With the same circumstances, I'd do it all over again," Arpaio said.
The sheriff, who conducted about 20 such patrols across metro Phoenix from January 2008 until October 2011, said he probably won't attend the meeting but will send senior managers.
The public meeting will come less than a week after Warshaw said in a report that Arpaio's office has a distant relationship with the community that it serves. Arpaio rejected the criticism, citing his success at winning re-election and his frequent speaking engagements before groups in the Phoenix area.
In the 2013 ruling in the racial profiling case, U.S. District Judge Murray Snow commented specifically on the Guadalupe patrol, concluding the sheriff's office wanted to conduct an operation in an area densely populated with Hispanics and considered race as a factor in selecting Guadalupe as the location.
The agency said in a April 2008 news release that the effort was launched because of escalating tensions between town residents and immigrants who were in the country illegally.
Snow, however, said there was no testimony or evidence on how the sheriff's office came to that conclusion.
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