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MCSO not in total compliance with decade-old court order

GUADALUPE, Ariz. — Ten years after the court order was first issued, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) is still not fully complying, according to its latest report.

A 2013 court order calls for reform of past unconstitutional police practices after former Sheriff Joe Arpaio was convicted of racial profiling and selective enforcement.

The judge required the sheriff’s office to implement a variety of reforms, including cleaning up old case backlogs and disciplining sheriffs for misconduct.

Since then, Sheriff Paul Penzone has been tasked with keeping the department in 100 percent compliance.

MCSO Administrator Anne Seal said the office was in 90% compliance with court orders as of the latest report.

Schell said MCSO continues to see disparities in traffic stops when it comes to citations, searches and stop times.

She said when she finds such discrepancies in monthly reports, she checks to see who is involved.

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“In order to look at the deputy, we need to see if there are any disparate results or disparate activity by the deputy. If there is, that would flag that deputy,” Schell said.

Since April 2021, 135 members of Congress have been charged. Scheer said 17 of those lawmakers were referred for intervention.

“We believe that these traffic surveys, these monthly traffic surveys, are helpful and working because none of the 17 council members have returned with a flag,” Schell said.

She said MCSO has received 17 complaints regarding allegations that deputies were biased during traffic stops. Of those complaints, 10 councilors were found to be biased.

Guadalupe Elementary School, where MCSO held its first community information session about the order since the pandemic began, was at full capacity.

“They’re about 90 percent compliant, but there’s also a 10 percent that’s just persistent and they don’t know what’s pending,” Salvador Reza said.

Community members said they hope the next sheriff will close the 10% gap.

“We thought maybe within four years they would do it, but it’s already been seven years,” Leather said of Penzone’s impact on orders.

The court ordered that surveillance continue even after Penzone resigned in January.

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