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OPINION

Ariz. sheriff plans to cooperate in Justice Department probe

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PHOENIX -- Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio said he intends to send a letter to the U.S. Justice Department on Wednesday promising cooperation with federal officials.

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But what constitutes cooperation remains to be seen.

Arpaio and the sheriff's office are on deadline to respond to the findings of a federal civil-rights investigation that concluded they engaged in a wide-ranging pattern of discrimination against Latinos. Arpaio was put on notice that he had to reform his agency or face a lawsuit to force compliance with federal law.

As of Tuesday evening, the response letter had not yet been finalized, according to Sheriff's Deputy Chief Jack MacIntyre. He would not reveal its content but characterized the Justice Department findings as "a pile of unsubstantiated allegations."

"You can't take a handful of anecdotes and say that's a systemic problem," MacIntyre said. "In the letter we're going to tell them we're going to cooperate. But cooperation is a two-way street."

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