Arpaio should be viewed as a cautionary tale for the long-term financial obligations communities take on when they let local police officers handle immigration enforcement.
Nearly five years after Joe Arpaio was voted out as sheriff of Arizona’s most populous county, taxpayers are covering one of the last major bills from the thousands of lawsuits the lawman’s headline-grabbing tactics inspired, the Associated Press reports.
Officials in Maricopa County, home to Phoenix, agreed last week to pay $3.1 million to cover the county’s portion of a settlement with a restaurant owner who alleged Arpaio defamed him and violated his rights when raiding his businesses.
The payout takes to $100 million the attorney fees, settlements and other costs the county has paid from lawsuits stemming from Arpaio’s six terms over things such as jail deaths, failed investigations of the sheriff’s political enemies and immigration raids of businesses.
That doesn’t include the separate $178 million and counting taxpayers have shelled out in a 2007 racial profiling case stemming from Arpaio’s signature traffic patrols targeting immigrants, though about 75% of that spending has occurred during his successor’s watch as he works to comply with court-ordered overhauls of the sheriff’s office.
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