It appears to be going from bad to worse in the city of Maricopa. We relayed in early June that the Kern County Grand Jury recommended in a rather scathing report that the city should just disincorporate because overall it is too poorly run to continue. Among other factors, Maricopa has a debt of $200,000 and has been the subject of criticism over complaints that vehicles have been unfairly impounded for minor violations. Law enforcement is creating the newest issues for the city, as it was revealed at a city council meeting this week that the ACLU and federal investigators are looking into allegations of racial profiling by the Maricopa police department. During public comments, ACLU Staff Attorney Jennie Pasquarella informed the council that their investigations revealed the city’s police force is targeting Hispanics and is illegally stopping drivers and impounding cars. Pasquarella pointed out the issue has attracted the attention of the Department of Justice. The grand jury report that suggested Maricopa be disbanded also recommending disbanding the city’s police force. KERO News reports that the ACLU attorney made the following statements about police misconduct:
“It’s some of the most shocking and egregious example of police misconduct in the area of car impoundments that we have seen in the entire state and it needs to stop. […] The police department is engaging in a very concerted campaign to pullover any person that looks Latino or looks like a farm worker. […] We also know that the feds are investigating the Department of Justice has apparently been investigating the situation as well.”
Finally, Pasquarella gave the council a warning about the implications of the police’s actions for the already troubled city: “If it doesn't stop the city should know that the city will incur legal liability because these practices are clearly in violation of the U.S. Constitution and California law.” Legal costs for such serious allegations will undoubtedly be a financial burden.