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Arizona sheriff to fight ruling appointing race-profiling monitor

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio addresses the media about a simulated school shooting in Fountain Hills, Arizona, February 9, 2013. REUTE
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio addresses the media about a simulated school shooting in Fountain Hills, Arizona, February 9, 2013. REUTE

PHOENIX (Reuters) - Attorneys for hard-line Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio will appeal a judge's ruling ordering the appointment of a monitor to ensure that his officers no longer use racial profiling, especially of Latinos, in their efforts to crack down on undocumented immigrants.

A federal judge in May ordered the Maricopa County sheriff to stop using race when making law enforcement decisions, in response to a lawsuit that tested whether police could target unauthorized immigrants without profiling U.S. citizens and legally resident Hispanics.

On October 2, U.S. District Court Judge Murray Snow ordered parties in the case to agree on the selection of an independent monitor within 60 days to oversee the work of the 81-year-old lawman, who styles himself as "America's toughest sheriff." In addition, he mandated other steps be taken, including appointing a community advisory board.

Attorneys for Arpaio, a divisive figure in a bitter national debate over immigration who was elected to a sixth term as sheriff last year, lodged a notice to appeal the order with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit on Thursday.

The sheriff, who is facing a lawsuit and investigation from the U.S. Justice Department accusing him of civil rights abuses, vehemently denies that he or his officers profile Latinos.

Under a portion of a controversial Arizona immigration law that was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, police in the state may ask people they stop about their immigration status.

The monitor's duties are to include reviewing the sheriff office's policies and procedures, as well as making sure that its operations are carried out in a "race-neutral fashion," although Arpaio stated the appointee would have no "veto authority" over his duties and operations.

The ruling last month also ordered audio and video recording of all traffic stops, increased training of sheriff's office employees and the implementation of comprehensive record keeping.

It also requires the sheriff's office to create a community advisory board to bolster its public outreach efforts, and mandates that deputies must tell dispatchers the reason for any traffic stops before approaching a vehicle.

(Reporting by Tim Gaynor; Editing by Eric Walsh)

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