PHOENIX A U.S. federal judge on Wednesday ordered a monitor be appointed to oversee the work of hardline Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio to ensure that his officers no longer use racial profiling in stops of Latino drivers in a crackdown on illegal immigration.
U.S. District Judge Murray Snow had in May ordered the Maricopa County sheriff to stop using race as a factor in law enforcement decisions, in response to a lawsuit brought by Hispanic drivers that tested whether police could target illegal immigrants without profiling U.S. citizens and legal residents of Hispanic origin.
On Wednesday, the same judge ordered parties in the case to agree on the selection of a monitor within 60 days to oversee the work of the 81-year-old lawman, who styles himself as "America's toughest sheriff."
The ruling also orders the sheriff's office to bolster its public outreach efforts, and mandates that deputies must tell dispatchers the reason for any traffic stops before approaching a vehicle.
Arpaio, who was elected to a sixth term last year, has been a lightning rod for controversy with his get-tough stance on illegal immigration in Arizona, which borders Mexico.
Arpaio, who is facing a lawsuit and investigation from the U.S. Justice Department accusing him of civil rights abuses, denies that he profiles Latinos.
His state has been at the heart of a bitter national debate on immigration, and Arizona Republican Governor Jan Brewer signed a 2010 crackdown on illegal immigration that was subsequently challenged by the federal government.
The U.S. Supreme Court has allowed to stand a part of the law that permits police to question people they stop about their immigration status.
(Reporting by David Schwartz; Writing by Tim Gaynor; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Diane Craft)