Despite his July criminal conviction, data from an ongoing study of U.S. traffic stops shows that former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s police department was not alone in overtly targeting minorities.
Arpaio is facing prison time over a July criminal contempt conviction for ignoring a court order that his department in Maricopa County overly targeted Hispanics and illegal immigrants, but President Donald Trump said Monday that he was strongly considering a pardon for the 85-year-old retiree. Data from Stanford University’s Open Policing Project (OPP), an ongoing study of traffic stops in the US, shows that Arpaio’s stop and search rates may not have been out of line with the national average.
OPP has collected data on 130 million police stops in 31 states, and it shows that most included jurisdictions disproportionately search minorities after making a traffic stop at “similar” rates to Maricopa County, the Phoenix New Times reported Tuesday.
Data showed that police in Arpaio’s county executed searches 10 percent of the time when the driver was Hispanic, compared to just 4 percent when the driver was white. This resulted in a court order for Arpaio’s department to cease executing stop and searches and inquiring after the immigration statuses of Hispanic drivers.
But police in all 31 investigated states also searched minorities at higher rates than white drivers, and Maricopa County’s 6 percent racial disparity was in line with Arizona’s state rate, as well as the state rates in Ohio, Vermont, and South Carolina.
“I am seriously considering a pardon for Sheriff Arpaio,” Trump told Fox News Sunday at his club in Bedminster, N.J. “He has done a lot in the fight against illegal immigration. He’s a great American patriot and I hate to see what has happened to him.”
Arpaio has maintained his innocence since the outset of his trial, but also said that he would accept a pardon from the president if offered.
“I am happy he understands the case,” Arpaio told Fox News. “I would accept the pardon because I am 100 percent not guilty.”
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