USDOJ: Alamance County Sheriff’s Office showed “egregious pattern” of racial profiling Latinos

The U.S. Justice Department announced Tuesday that the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO), under the leadership of Sheriff Terry S. Johnson, has engaged in a pattern of misconduct that violates the Constitution and federal law.

Following a comprehensive investigation, the Justice Department found reasonable cause to believe that Sheriff’s Office engages practice of discriminatory policing against Latinos, in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, the Fourth Amendment, the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act and Title VI.

Here’s more from the DOJ’s press advisory:

Alamance County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO) discriminatory policing activities include:

  •    ACSO deputies target Latino drivers for traffic stops;
  •    A study of ACSO’s traffic stops on three major county roadways found that deputies were between four and 10 times more likely to stop Latino drivers than non-Latino drivers;
  •    ACSO deputies routinely locate checkpoints just outside Latino neighborhoods, forcing residents to endure police checks when entering or leaving their communities;
  •    ACSO practices at vehicle checkpoints often vary based on a driver’s ethnicity.   Deputies insist on examining identification of Latino drivers, while allowing drivers of other ethnicities to pass through without showing identification;
  •    ACSO deputies arrest Latinos for minor traffic violations while issuing citations or warnings to non-Latinos for the same violations;
  •    ACSO uses jail booking and detention practices, including practices related to immigration status checks, that discriminate against Latinos;
  •    The sheriff and ACSO’s leadership explicitly instruct deputies to target Latinos with discriminatory traffic stops and other enforcement activities;
  •    The sheriff and ACSO leadership foster a culture of bias by using anti-Latino epithets; and
  •    ACSO engages in substandard reporting and monitoring practices that mask its discriminatory conduct.

Taken together, these practices undermine ACSO’s ability to serve and protect Alamance County’s Latino residents and the community at large.

The Justice Department notes that addressing these findings and creating sustainable reforms will require the Sheriff’s office to commit to long term structural, cultural and institutional change.  And that any reform efforts  include systems of accountability to ensure that law enforcement agency “has eliminated unlawful bias from its decision making at all levels.”

To read the USDOJ’s Letter of Findings in the case, click here.

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