Contra Costa CA Sept 3 2010
A 26-year-old Pleasant Hill swim coach has been arrested for possession of child pornography.
The following is from the Contra Costa Sheriff’s Office….
Detectives from the Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff Sexual Assault Unit this morning arrested 26-year-old Alex Bursch of Antioch for possession of child pornography.
The Detectives launched an investigation following a tip. This morning at about 8AM, a search warrant was served at Bursch’s residence on the 5000 block of Wagon Wheel Way in Antioch.
There, several computers and storage devices containing thousands of images of child pornography were confiscated.
Bursch is a teacher at the Los Medanos Elementary School in Pittsburg. He was arrested this morning at the school without incident. Bursch is also a coach and lifeguard for a local swim team, the Pleasant Hill Dolfins.
Bursch has been booked into the Martinez Detention Facility on three charges of possession of child pornography. His bail is set at $60,000.
The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with any relevant information on Bursch is asked to call the Office of the Sheriff at 925-313-2621.
PHOENIX AZ Sept 3 2010 — A man who worked at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport was arrested Thursday on suspicion that he stole hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of items from the luggage of passengers in a case that could include hundreds of victims from around the world.
Officers saw Michael Hegstad, 23, take two boxes from a luggage conveyor belt and take out their contents on Aug. 26. He was taken into custody and admitted to repeatedly removing personal belongings from baggage, police Sgt. Steve Martos said Thursday.
It was unclear whether Hegstad yet had a lawyer, and he was in the process of being booked into jail.
Officers have retrieved a large amount of stolen personal items with an estimated value in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and say it will take some time to find all the victims involved and the time frame in which the items were taken.
“There could very well be hundreds of victims from across the country and across the globe,” Martos said.
Police plan to itemize all the stolen goods, which include electronics, figure out a timeline of when the items were taken, and set up a hotline next week for potential victims to call.
Police said Hegstad was not employed with Sky Harbor, but was working as a contract employee with Carrollton, Texas-based Elite Line Services and passed a background check before being hired.
A message left at the company was not immediately returned Thursday evening.
Meanwhile, a man accused of stealing up to 1,000 luggage bags from Sky Harbor in an unrelated case has pleaded guilty to five charges stemming from the thefts.
Keith King, 62, pleaded guilty Thursday to two counts of burglary, and one count each of theft, drug possession and trafficking stolen property. His sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 1.
King and Stacy Legg King, 39, were arrested in November after a Phoenix police officer said he saw Keith King walk into the airport, take a piece of luggage and leave. Authorities found hundreds of other bags in his home after following him there.
Stacy Legg King was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison last month after she pleaded guilty to theft, trafficking in stolen property and a dangerous drug violation.
Martos said the airport thefts should not worry passengers too much.
“We don’t feel there’s necessarily a concern,” he said. “This is a contracted employee who passed a background check. Now he’s detained and arrested, so it’s not something that necessarily happens on a daily basis.”
Airport spokeswoman Deborah Ostreicher said airport security is why Hegstad was caught and that airport officials aren’t looking to make any changes, just “the continued use of the tools that we have in order to catch people if they dare to do something like this here.”
She said passengers should always keep valuables on their person rather than in checked baggage.
The Times-News reports that Michael S. Brinkerhoff was arrested last week on felony charges of sexual abuse of a minor under the age of 16 and enticing children over the internet. He is jailed on $50,000 bail. A preliminary hearing is set for Sept. 10.
Prosecutors say Brinkerhoff allegedly told the girl that his nephew was moving to Burley and that he wanted to introduce the boy to some area teens via Facebook. Prosecutors say Burley posed as the fictitious boy and had graphic and sexual conversations with the girl online.
Superintendent Gaylen Smyer says Brinkerhoff, an English and drama teacher, has been suspended with pay.
On Friday, officers responded to Haynes High School where Jeffery Brian Lathan, 17, of Nolanville, allegedly punched a security guard in the face.
The victim reportedly suffered injuries around his eye and wrists.
Lathan is charged with Aggravated Assault Against a Public Servant. He is being held in the Bell County Jail on $100,000 bond
DURHAM, NC Sept 3 2010 Former Durham teacher’s assistant Gina Watring pleaded guilty to sex charges Thursday and will serve time in prison followed by probation.
Wearing a yellow cardigan and wrapped in jail chains, Watring appeared in court for a plea deal in her case.
Prosecutors say Watring had sex with a 10-year-old Creekside Elementary School student in 2009.
Gina Watring taught at Creekside Elementary
She was set to go to trial later this month on multiple criminal charges.
On Thursday, Watring pleaded guilty to sexual activity with a student, kidnapping and indecent liberties. Combined, all counts totaled 846 months in prison.
Under the plea deal, the charges were consolidated, leaving Watring with a reduced sentence.
Watring has already served more than a year in jail.
She asked for 36 months of supervised probation in Santa Barbara, CA, where she’d relocate to live with her parents.
The judge sentenced Watring to a minimum of 58 months in prison. Afterwards, she’ll be on three years of probation in California.
Also, the judge ordered her to stay away from the victim and his family. She has to register as a sex offender and can no longer work with children under 16-years-old while on probation. She is also ordered to take her medication.
According to prosecutors, Watring would remove the victim from the school bus line and talk to him in her classroom. This got the attention of other teachers and the boy’s mother who brought her concerns to Watring – who arranged a meeting with the former teacher’s assistant.
It was after this meeting that prosecutors say Watring had sex with the student at least twice. She even gave the boy cell phone so that they could arrange meetings. Prosecutors say Watring took the boy from his home at least twice.
In court Thursday, prosecutors read a letter written by the victim explaining – in explicit details – his sexual interaction with Watring. They say Watring told the boy she no longer loved her husband and that they were no longer intimate.
The victim’s mother read a statement in court, calling Watring a “monster” and telling her “she’s not a mother” because she hurt her own children. She says her son is in rage and hurt by this situation. He’s been in counseling since his relationship with Watring was revealed. He’s also had to transfer to different schools.
The family says it agreed to the plea because their son can’t handle the stress of a trial.
According to the defense, Watring has undergone a psychiatric evaluation. She has bipolar and personality disorders. Her attorney says she wasn’t on medication at the time, allowing her to become obsessed with her student.
Watring is taking medication now. Her attorney says she has great regret over this situation.
At the home, police found the bodies of two women: 63-year-old Segundina Allen and 60-year-old Marcaria Smart, both friendly with Valdemoro, a San Pablo resident.
But what rage prompted their deaths may remain undisclosed.
Police fatally shot Valdemoro after a wild Tuesday night chase that ended at a fish counter in Richmond’s Pacific East Mall. He grabbed a cleaver and attacked a security guard, police said, prompting two California Highway Patrol officers to shoot.
The 38-year-old left the body of his strangled ex-girlfriend in the parking lot.
“We were dealing with a very unstable individual,” CHP Sgt. Trent Cross said Wednesday. “He fled from the vehicle to the market, had a meat cleaver, and put the officers in a position where they were in fear for their lives.”
Vallejo police Lt. Abel Tenorio said Wednesday that his department has not concluded beyond doubt that Valdemoro killed Smart and Allen. On Tuesday afternoon, Hercules police did name Valdemoro as their suspect in the beating death of 73-year-old Ricardo Sales, found Saturday in the bedroom of a Hercules home. Sales’s son and housemate, 35-year-old Frederick Sales, remains missing.
All the victims knew Valdemoro. Detectives remained mum Wednesday about the details of those relationships, or a motive for the killings.
The strangled victim, 46-year-old Cindy Tran, owned and lived in the Hercules home on Crepe Myrtle Drive with the Saleses. She also owned the dark-colored Acura that Valdemoro drove in the police chase.
Hercules police, investigating the Sales death, reported that he was last seen driving a pearl white Cadillac Escalade — Allen’s car. Police recovered the Escalade at a business park in Hercules on Wednesday.
Tuesday’s chase began about 7:40 p.m. in Pleasant Hill. CHP officers pursued the Acura onto Interstate 680 and then to Richmond, at speeds exceeding 100 mph, before it exited at Central Avenue and drove into the mall parking lot.
During the chase, police sources say, witnesses saw Tran waving frantically through the window. She also made a phone call about 20 minutes before the end of the chase, pleading for help.
Police sources said that Valdemoro managed to strangle Tran with a length of rope during the chase, before he ran into the mall.
A security guard saw Valdemoro running with officers on his tail and joined the chase. He tried to grab Valdemoro near the fish counter in the 99 Ranch Market, but the suspect threatened him with the cleaver.
Two CHP officers ordered him to drop his weapon, Cross said, but he didn’t, so they shot him.
Investigators went to the Vallejo home Wednesday morning and observed flies inside the home in the window. They returned about 5 p.m. and observed a strange odor; they talked to Allen’s husband, 72-year-old Charles Rittenhouse, and “froze” the house while seeking a search warrant. Authorities found the women’s bodies after executing the warrant about 10 p.m. They also found bomb-making materials.
Rittenhouse was taken into custody in connection with the explosives ingredients, including C-4 and dynamite, but not the deaths, Vallejo police said. Police also found a small amount of explosives at a South Vallejo storage unit that Valdemoro rented.
UPPER MARLBORO, Md. Sept 3 2010 (WUSA) – Round after round, Tiente Howell, fires her weapon, imaging a scenario like Wednesday’s when a gunman burst into the Discovery Channel building.
Howell is a security officer for the Department of Defense and she’s practicing to be a sharpshooter. She can often be found here at Maryland Small Arms Range. She experts her company will soon have her and other officers doing drills to counter a similar situation where a gunman comes in with a bomb strapped to him.
“Within a slip second, you have to decide whether to shoot or run for cover. Most of the time, if someone’s pointing a gun, you’re gonna shoot,” said Howell.
But the security guard who became one of James Lee’s hostages in the lobby of the Discovery Channel was not armed, and had few options.
“I’m my opinion, it defeats the purpose to have security if they’re unarmed,” said firearms instructor Mike DiZebba. He compared the Discovery Channel incident with the shooting at the Holocaust Museum. There, the gunman also walked in pointing his weapon but was shot by an armed security guard.
“You’re in no better position unarmed. In fact, wearing a uniform, you might be a bigger target. Usually they shoot the security guard first,” said DiZebba.
Security experts say the reason more companies don’t hire two security guards is because costs more money. Insurance costs also go up since the liability increases with a gun in the building.
“If the guy with gun has ill will and is intent upon doing it, he’s going to do it,” said Robert Jenkins, owner of Jenkins Security. Jenkins says he thinks both an unarmed and armed guard offer increasing levels of deterrence. He says if there’s a greater threat, he often suggests companies get two armed guards.
In the Holocaust incident, the gunman, 88 year-old James W. von Brunn, a white supremacist, killed Stephen Johns, the first security guard he saw. A second armed guard was able to shoot and stop von Brunn.
“We press people that they might need two armed guards. You need a backup,” says Jenkins.
An unarmed security guard can cost a company about 30 dollars an hour. An armed one could cost at least 50 dollars an hour according to Jenkins.
The 21-year-old driver then aimed his car at the officer, who had rolled off the hood onto the ground, but the downed officer was able to get out of the way.
The incident happened at about 1:45 a.m. today at Club Rodeo, 10001 E. Kellogg, when officers told the man to leave the parking lot. Instead the driver drove to another part of the lot and was talking to patrons leaving the club, authorities said.
When the officer working security approached the driver in his car again, the driver put his car into reverse, began backing away in a turn and struck the officer with the front fender.
After he struck the officer, the driver sped out of the parking lot onto Kellogg, authorities said. Police pursued the fleeing car east and then south for several minutes before it stopped at Lexington and Fabrique, southwest of Lincoln and Woodlawn.
The driver was booked on suspicion of aggravated battery of a law enforcement officer, driving under the influence and other offenses. The officer struck by the car escaped serious injury, authorities said.
OKLAHOMA CITY Okl Sept 3 2010 – Off-duty police officers with the OU Health Sciences Center shot and killed a suspect in an overnight shooting at a southwest Oklahoma City nightclub.
Oklahoma City Police said an argument started around 2:00 a.m. Thursday inside Club Rodeo. As security officers were trying to clear the club and the parking lot, a man in the crowd pulled out a gun and started shooting at officers.
Off-duty OUPD officers were working with regular security at the club. They returned fire, hitting three people.
Officers shot and killed 24-year-old suspect Lance Dawkins. Johnny Mixon, 23, was also hit and taken to Presbyterian Hospital. He’s listed in critical condition. A third man, 24-year-old Bryan Bonner, received minor injuries, and was treated and released from a local hospital.
Police said there were several people in the parking lot when the shooting started, but many of them left before police arrived. Investigators want to speak to any potential witnesses. Anyone with information should call the Homicide Tip Line at 405-297-1200.
The four officers involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative leave from their jobs at OU Health Sciences Center.
SANTA CRUZ CA Sept 3 2010 – Downtown visitors will see more uniformed officers patrolling Pacific Avenue this month, but the new faces will not be police.
A pilot program that puts private security guards downtown during the morning and early afternoon launches Saturday. The aim is to provide an increased police presence in the business district that had been plagued by vagrants, vandalism and violence, according to police and city leaders.
Three First Alarm security guards trained in municipal ordinances and equipped with police radios will share the daily patrols, which augment regular policing in the area, according to Kevin Vogel, interim Santa Cruz police chief.
The one-month trial run begins Saturday and will cost $5,000, police reported. It will be funded by the police department.
“We are looking for more creative, less expensive ways to provide additional public safety resources downtown,” said Vogel, who took over leadership of the police department Wednesday. “First Alarm will be down there to enhance the staffing we already have downtown.”
However, the private security officers will not carry guns and have no police powers. They can detain people – akin to a citizen’s arrest – and will notify police dispatchers of problems that require the attention of a sworn officer.
“It’s a proactive stance,” Vogel said. “We want them walking around, talking to people.”
Chip, the head of the Downtown Association who goes by one name, said business owners support the police initiative.
“The more of a presence of enforcement downtown the more security people have,” he said.
City Manager Martin Bernal said the security guards will help “change the culture so that bad behavior is not acceptable.” Because an arrest can tie up an officer for four hours or more, the guards are needed to provide more eyes and ears on the street, he said.
There are seven officers and a sergeant assigned to patrol downtown Santa Cruz, but that unit typically works in the afternoon and evening when downtown problems ramp up. A community service officer assigned to downtown is on leave.
The security guards will work an early shift when there are fewer police officers in the area, Vogel said.
Bernal noted that the city has yet to hire officers to fill all of the eight positions recently approved by the City Council. While officer candidates are vetted – a lengthy process that involves background checks and training – the cost of the security guards is coming from the money budgeted for new officers.
Cal Horton, president of First Alarm Security & Patrol, Inc, said his company often provides support services to area law enforcement and this latest assignment is an exciting opportunity for his staff.
The Santa Cruz Police Department hires private security guards to beef up staffing for major events, such as Halloween and New Year’s Eve. First Alarm guards man road blocks in the Seabright neighborhood on July Fourth and patrol city property at night.
Sheriff Phil Wowak contracted a First Alarm guard to watch over the Peace Camp 2010 protest when the homeless campers staked out the county courthouse steps earlier in the summer.
One security guards will be on patrol downtown from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily though Oct. 3, then the supplemental program will be evaluated to determine if it should continue, Vogel said.
“I think it’s a great experiment,” said Ryan Coonerty, a Santa Cruz City Councilman and downtown business owner. “It’s amazing when you walk along with police officers how everyone straightens up and crime goes away, so the more often that happens, the better.”
Staff writer Jim Brown contributed to this report.
Downtown private security pilot project
Begins: Saturday and continues for one month.
Cost: $5,000, paid from police department funds.
Patrol area: Pacific Avenue and side streets.
Staff: Three First Alarm security guards will be trained; one will patrol each day.
Hours: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
SOURCE: Santa Cruz police
SOMERS NY Sept 3 2010— A Heritage Hills security guard responding to a medical emergency was injured in a two-vehicle collision this afternoon.
The other vehicle’s driver, a 29-year-old Sleepy Hollow woman, and a 7-year-old boy riding with her were also taken to a hospital as a precaution.
Authorities said the guard, a 25-year-old Somers resident, was driving a security vehicle with emergency lights about 1:35 p.m. on the way to the medical call. He came to the intersection of Warren Street and West Hill Drive and expected the Sleepy Hollow woman’s car would stop. It didn’t and they collided. The security vehicle was forced off the road and rolled onto its side.
Somers firefighters extricated the guard. He was taken to Putnam Hospital Center for observation but was not believed seriously injured.
The men, members of the Brooklyn South Shomrim Patrol, a licensed unarmed civilian group, were shot about 8 p.m. near 49th Street and 10th Avenue in Borough Park, the police said. None of their wounds were considered life-threatening.
The man in the car was also hit in the arm by a bullet from a gun he had fired, and he was seized by patrol members, Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said late Thursday night.
The police said the man, whose name was not immediately released, had an “extensive” criminal record.
Members of the security patrol said that the man had been reported sitting in his car and fondling himself while leering at groups of young girls on Aug. 25, and that they had given his license plate number to the police.
They said they had chased and tried to apprehend him, and had made a plan to confront him.
On Thursday night, they said, they spotted the man driving up 46th Street in a silver Hyundai after residents called their hot line. Members of the patrol began following him in an unmarked car, and contacted Shomrim members in other vehicles to help box him in, said Sam Follman, a coordinator for the group.
“He noticed we were behind him, and he was scared,” Mr. Follman said. “He’s a known perp to us.”
As the man drove along 46th street between Ninth and 10th Avenues, he had to stop behind a double-parked car on a one-way street.
“When he saw he was blocked, he got out and started running,” Mr. Follman said. After a brief chase, members of the patrol converged on him from several directions, tackled him and forced him to the ground. The man then pulled a .22-caliber gun and started firing, Mr. Follman said.
“Probably he got off five, six shots,” he said. “While he was on the floor, he kept shooting.”
According to the police, four members of the group were hit. They were taken to Lutheran Medical Center. Mr. Follman identified the injured patrol members as Abe Kaztow, a baker, who was hit in the hand; Motty Brauner, a dry cleaner, who was hit in the neck; Joel Klein, an insurance salesman, who was shot in the abdomen; and Motty Pearl, also a baker, hit in the hand.
At a news conference at the hospital, Mr. Kelly said the suspect had a record that included arrests for public lewdness, gun possession and robbery. The Shomrim has been patrolling Hasidic communities in Brooklyn for more than 20 years, and works closely with neighborhood precincts. Mr. Kelly said the police “have a strong relationship” with the group.
WAYNESBORO Ga.Sept 3 2010– A Waynesboro Police officer was arrested after troopers say he was racing with another vehicle that ended up flipping over and crashing.
Investigators say Jonathan Cates, a Waynesboro Police Officer, was speeding in a 1999 Chevy Silverado. He was arrested and is being charged with misdemeanor racing.
The other vehicle, a 2007 Nissan Titan was also speeding when it flipped onto the drivers side on 11th Street and Quaker Road.
There was a 15 year old in the Titan who was hurt in the accident. He is expected to be okay, and right now it is not clear if he was actually driving.
Georgia State Patrol, Sgt. Ben Forehand said it happened Tuesday night around 8:20 p.m.
“By the time I seen it…it was still on its side sliding,” Derrick Smith said about watching the truck with the teenager inside crashing into a yard on West 11th Street.
Smith sees police tape, mirrors and other car parts in the yard the truck crashed into now, but Tuesday night he says it was a 2007 Nissan Titan that was smashed and left a teenager injured.
“This is a racing community,” Smith said. “But just (doing it) in this confined area, that’s ridiculous.”
Sgt. Forehand worked the accident and said two trucks were racing at a high rate of speed before the Nissan Titan lost control around a corner and rolled into a neighbors yard hitting a tree.
But when troopers arrived they say the Nissan was being moved to Top Quality Auto, a nearby auto shop that has wrecked cars in its lot, and Officer Cates’ 1999 Chevy Silverado was nowhere to be found.
“I’m not very happy about it at all,” Waynesboro Police Chief Karl Allen said. “We don’t condone this type of behavior whatsoever.”
Chief Allen said they’ve had disciplinary problems with this officer before and have now put him on administrative leave.
“At this point, we’re doing an investigation and after the investigation we’ll decide what to do and what disciplinary action to take against the officer,” Chief Allen said.
State Patrol investigators say the 15-year-old suffered a minor shoulder injury and his family owns Top Quality Auto.
Earl Culver was arrested for interference with police. Incident reports show he works at Top Quality Auto.
Incident reports also said, “(The teen) advised (an officer) that Earl was driving the vehicle.” The incident report then says Culver was taken to the Burke County Jail. In the officers statement in the report it later says, “But at the jail (Culver) told (the officer) that (Culver) was taking the blame, that (Culver) was the driver.”
“Covering one bad to suit one purpose is still however you sum it up,” Smith said. “Off duty officer or not.”
So the investigation continues and only time will tell the fate of Officer Cates’ job and if the 15-year-old was the other one racing the Nissan Titan that crashed.
“It’s not the fact that I want anyone to get locked up or lose their job,” Smith said. “But practice the law equally and fairly for everyone.”
State Patrol investigators are also looking into the case to see if alcohol was involved in the race.
The State Patrol says the officer came to the Waynesboro Police Department and turned himself in about four hours after the accident.
Incident reports also show the Titan was not insured.
Nashville TN Sept 3 2010 News of a three-year-old Macon County child’s death from a brown recluse spider bite shocked the medical community in Nashville on Thursday.
Dr. Steve Murphree, a medical entomologist and biology professor at Belmont University, said in his experience, he’d never heard of a death related to a brown recluse bite.
“I’ve heard of someone having severe problems with a limb before,” he said. “I had a student here, years ago, whose husband was bitten in bed and had systemic reaction with fever that lasted a day, but he got over it. This is sad news.”
About 90 percent of people don’t react to a brown recluse bite. Others may have terrible necrotic wounds — the venom spreads from the bite and kills the surrounding flesh.
According to family members, Kaylee Davis was bitten on the chest Tuesday evening. They put the spider in a plastic bag and took the little girl to the emergency room at Lafayette Hospital. She was allowed to return home that night.
Kaylee’s great grandmother, Pam White, told news reporters that the girl’s condition worsened overnight. She had a 104-degree fever and was vomiting, she said.
The next morning, Kaylee was taken to the Monroe Carell Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt where she was given a blood transfusion, White said.
The child died at 1:10 p.m. Wednesday, said hospital spokesman Jerry Jones.
An autopsy is being done to determine the cause of death, but a report won’t be ready for about 10-14 weeks, said officials with the medical examiner’s office in Nashville.
There has been no increase in patients at Vanderbilt suffering from spider bites, Jones said.
Officials at the Metro Health Department also said they’ve seen a slight decrease in calls from residents concerned about spiders inside the home, said spokesman Brian Todd.
On average, Metro Health deals with about 10-12 calls each summer.
“I think you hear a lot about the brown recluse and the dangers of their bites, but it is surprising and very sad to have a death,” Todd said. “I can’t remember, at any time in Nashville, us having a death from a brown recluse. As someone who is a parent to 2 young boys, it’s very scary.”
Federal attorneys said Solomon thought he was protecting drug dealers, but instead they were FBI agents working to catch the officer.
Officials told Channel 2 Action News reporter Ryan Young that Solomon showed up to meet with drug dealers in his uniform, in an Atlanta police car, on at least two occasions.
“It’s a very important case,” said U.S. Attorney Sally Yates. “Officer Solomon was sworn to protect the public from drug dealers and instead he was protecting the drug dealers from law enforcement.”
“It’s not an issue of whether he was corrupt. He was corrupt. He’s going to jail,” said Solomon’s attorney, Buddy Parker. “The issue is not should be go to jail. He is going to jail. It’s just how long.”
Solomon had been with the Atlanta Police Department for eight years. Before his work on the force, he served eight years in the U.S. Army.
He will remain on bond until his sentencing.
Authorities said the investigation continues.
PHOENIX AZ Sept 3 2010 — The U.S. Justice Department sued Sheriff Joe Arpaio on Thursday, saying the Arizona lawman refused for more than a year to turn over records in an investigation into allegations his department discriminates against Hispanics.
The lawsuit calls Arpaio and his office’s defiance “unprecedented,” and said the federal government has been trying since March 2009 to get officials to comply with its probe of alleged discrimination, unconstitutional searches and seizures, and jail policies that discriminate against people with limited English skills
Arpaio had been given until Aug. 17 to hand over documents the federal government first asked for 15 months ago.
Arpaio called the Justice Department actions harrassment at a news conference Thursday morning in downtown Phoenix. His office has said it won’t hand over additional documents because federal authorities haven’t said exactly what they were investigating.
“They have hundreds of thousands of reports, hundreds of thousands,” Arpaio said. “They’re so broad, we’re trying to narrow it down. We’re trying to work with them.”
The lawsuit is the latest action against Arizona by the federal government, which earlier sued the state to stop its strict new immigration law that requires police officers to question people about their immigration status if there is reason to suspect they are in the country illegally.
“The actions of the sheriff’s office are unprecedented,” said Thomas Perez, assistant attorney general for the department’s civil rights division. “It is unfortunate that the department was forced to resort to litigation to gain access to public documents and facilities.”
The lawsuit said the department is investigating police practices and jail policies but did not specify the documents sought in its dozens of requests. It was filed in U.S. District Court in Phoenix and names Arpaio, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office and the county.
Arizona’s new law — most of which a federal judge has put on hold — mirrors many of the policies Arpaio has put into place in the greater Phoenix area. Arpaio believes the inquiry is focused on his immigration sweeps, patrols where deputies flood an area of a city — in some cases heavily Latino areas — to seek out traffic violators and arrest other offenders.
Critics say his deputies pull people over for minor traffic infractions because of the color of their skin so they can ask them for their proof of citizenship.
Arpaio denies allegations of racial profiling, saying people are stopped if deputies have probable cause to believe they’ve committed crimes and that it’s only afterward that deputies find many of them are illegal immigrants.
The sheriff’s office has said half of the 1,032 people arrested in the sweeps have been illegal immigrants.
Last year, the federal government stripped Arpaio of his special power to enforce federal immigration law. The sheriff continued his sweeps through the enforcement of state immigration laws.
The department’s lawsuit said Arpaio’s office signed agreements promising to cooperate with civil-rights investigations and other reviews when it accepted federal law enforcement grants.
Last year, the nearly $113 million that the county government received from the federal government accounted for about 5 percent of the county’s $2 billion budget. The lawsuit listed $16.5 million of funding provided Arpaio’s office through several programs.
In a separate investigation, a federal grand jury in Phoenix is examining allegations that Arpaio has abused his powers with actions such as intimidating county workers by showing up at their homes at nights and on weekends.
A Hispanic activist said a federal judge might have to threaten jail time to get Arpaio to cooperate in the lawsuit filed Thursday.
Hispanics alleging racial profiling by Arpaio’s deputies in a lawsuit already pending in federal court have met with resistance in their own dcoument demands, said Lydia Guzman of the Phoenix-based civil rights group Somos America.
“It’s going to take the hard hand of the judge to order some sanctions against the sheriff’s office,” Guzman said.