PHOENIX, Ariz.- Sheriff Paul Penzone is assuring that he is taking full responsibility to stop racial profiling within his department.
“I owned it the day I came through the door. It was my problem,” said Maricopa County’s Sheriff during a press conference that took place right after a status hearing in federal court.
Wednesday’s hearing was a follow-up to a previous hearing over the summer.
According to an Arizona State University audit, Latinos are more likely to be pulled over by MCSO deputies.
In Wednesday's hearing, MCSO addressed what’s being done to correct the audit’s findings. They reached a collaborative point with the Department of Justice and the American Civil Liberties Union to come up with guidelines that will help stop biased policing, as the audit’s statistics show. These changes are also part of a required mandate federal judge Murray Snow ordered four years ago.
"I never shied away from that or the court orders or lawsuits or anything else. I signed up to say ‘I’m going to be part of the solution not part of the problem,” said the Sheriff, who took office this year and has inherited a department’s long standing culture of racial profiling which resulted in a lawsuit against former Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
However, although the plaintiffs are working with MCSO to undergo changes, ACLU attorney, Cecillia Wang is still concerned and said not much has changed.
“We’ve seen that the culture of the Maricopa County Office runs deep. That supervisors in the sergeant level look at clear data, the agency’s own data showing that there’s biased policing still happening,” said Wang.
According to MCSO, there are 35 cases of deputies involved in questionable behavior. Of those cases, seven were selected to further review, coach and train so that there is no biased policing. A future report is expected.