PHOENIX (CN) – Sheriff Joe Arpaio claims the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors threatened public safety and broke state and federal laws by taking control of a law-enforcement communications system last year. Arpaio, who calls himself “America’s toughest sheriff,” says only criminal justice agencies are only authorized to access the system.
Arpaio says Zone 2, the county program that provides access to the electronic Arizona Criminal Justice Information System, is crucial to the Sheriff’s Office because a “paper-based system would be futile given the sheer number of individuals booked every day and the number of individuals in jail at any one time.” Arpaio says 300 to 400 people are booked into Maricopa County Jail each day, and that the system holds 11,000 inmates.
Arpaio says he has lost control of the electronic system “and may lose access to criminal history record information or criminal justice information” due to the board’s unauthorized transfer of Zone 2 to the control of the county’s Office of Enterprise Technology.
The Arizona Criminal Justice Information System includes criminal history data, arrest warrants and grand jury information.
With system control in the hands of the Board of Supervisors and the Office of Enterprise Technology, Arpaio says, there is “a significant impediment to the administration of justice and a risk to the public and the safety of law enforcement officers.”
Arpaio says that if he can’t get access to this information, it would impede him in serving warrants, and other national agencies could lose criminal information.
The information system allows “law enforcement to ensure that detainees receive their initial appearance and due process within” 24 hours of being booked and provides officers with suspect information. Without the system, Arpaio claims that “law enforcement would be required to release the detainees without adequate disposition and, in turn, endangering public safety” and subjecting the public to “dangerous suspects.”
Arpaio says that in April deputies “detained several suspects, including a potential murder suspect” and tried to get “criminal justice data to obtain information regarding the suspect’s description information,” but were barred access to Zone 2.
Arpaio also claims that “OET also has casually displayed diagrams depicting the ACJIS network system on a conference room wall where individuals without proper certification could view information about the classified network and data.” The diagrams place the security of ACJIS-connected systems and Zone 2 at risk, Arpaio says.
He claims that the board’s acts “demonstrate an abuse of power” and might result in the FBI and DPS denying Maricopa County access to criminal justice databases.
Arpaio wants the system transferred back to his sheriff’s control and the funding to operate it.
Joe Arpaio is represented by L. Eric Dowell, Alec Hillbo and Leah S. Freed with Ogletree, Deakins and Nash.