Traffic stops by metro Phoenix deputies plunge amid overhaul

PHOENIX (AP) — Officers at the sheriff’s office in metro Phoenix have made 52% fewer traffic stops in the years since a judge concluded they had racially profiled Latinos in then-Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s immigration patrols.

Arpaio’s successor, Sheriff Paul Penzone, and others tell The Associated Press that the decrease is driven by officers’ fears that they’ll be unfairly scrutinized in a court-ordered overhaul that’s aimed at ridding the agency of its biased policing.

The decline from 31,700 stops in 2015 to 15,200 in 2018 raises questions about whether officers are missing evidence of illegal drugs and other crimes that are sometimes discovered when pulling over motorists.

Penzone concedes officers may be missing criminal activity by making fewer stops, but says it’s unacceptable for officers to back away from their duties.

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