Presidential pardon means 'you can get away with it' says sheriff

Lili Tan reports.

Into the weekend, there was another storm brewing: this time on Twitter when some say President Trump sent a message about race and policing.

“I am pleased to inform you that I just granted a full Pardon to 85-year-old American patriot Sheriff Joe Arpaio. He kept Arizona safe!” the president tweeted.

The former Maricopa County, self-described ‘America’s toughest sheriff’ spoke to reporters about being pardoned.

"I'm very happy about it. I have to thank the President of the United States for his pardon. As I said, he's a big friend, supporter of law enforcement. I think this is about a bigger picture than just me,” Arpaio told NBC News.

It’s a bigger picture others say could be dangerous. King County Sheriff John Urquhart tweeted as well, calling the pardon ‘unconscionable.’

“I think that sends a terrible message to law enforcement because it shows you can get away with violating the Constitution, violating the law," Urquhart said. "Not listening to what a judge orders you to do and you can get away with it – I think that's a bad precedent to set."

A federal district judge told Arpaio to stop detaining people based only on suspicion of their immigration status, but the former sheriff insisted his tactics were legal and kept instructing his deputies to do it.

“No, it’s not going to lead to more people being pulled over. It's still against the law to racially profile. That's what those police officers in Arizona are doing at the behest of their sheriff. They were pulling people over because of the color of their skin. That's unconstitutional. That's racial policing,” Urquhart maintained, explaining it remains to be seen how law enforcement across the country interprets Trump’s decision.

His opponent agrees the local impact should be minimal, if non-existent.

“At a time when law enforcement is working so hard in building community trust and support, to pardon him is just unthinkable,” sheriff candidate Mitzi Johanknecht said. 

© 2017 KING-TV


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