Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson says attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union acted without having all the facts when they slapped him with a letter demanding he rescind a crime prevention bulletin and issue a public statement condemning discrimination against any person based on race, ethnicity or physical appearance.
The ACLU says the document in question, entitled “Gypsy Scams,” includes specific racial and ethnic descriptions of Gypsies that could encourage the community to regard such persons matching the description as suspicious.
But Robinson, who said he’s very aware of the letter, said the ACLU has handed down some very serious allegations without having all the facts.
Robinson, who’s launched an internal investigation into the matter, said he never authorized the document for release, and in no way is it any part of the ACSO’s official communication to the public, much less official policy.
“Frankly I’m a little disturbed they (ACLU) didn’t at least talk to me before making these very serious allegations,” said Robinson. “I take these allegations very seriously … we do not do business the way they allege, and these allegations are simply not right. We don’t use appearance or racial descriptors to make decisions on criminal behavior.”
According to Robinson, the controversy stems from a training document prepared in April 2011 by a third-party vendor that was accidentally distributed by a county employee.
“I don’t know where all the document has been sent,” said Robinson, who’s launched an internal investigation. “What I do know is that the document was probably sent out by someone from my office to the district attorney’s office as an internal information-sharing item.”
Robinson added that he suspects the individual who sent the bulletin in question did not have malicious intentions.
“I think when the investigation is complete, we’ll find that he believed he was simply sharing information and didn’t realize it was going to be distributed beyond the recipient, but it appears it was distributed to the bar association as well as several other places,” he said. “But this document was never authorized by my office to be distributed anywhere.”
As the internal investigation wraps up, Robinson said he’ll deal with the employee in person and will be sitting down with the ACLU to hash out the incident in detail.
“It’s my goal to show them the courtesy they didn’t show me and discuss the matter and all the associated facts before making any assumptions.”
The sheriff went on to say it’s ACSO’s official policy that no one should be identified as a criminal based solely on physical appearance, but on more standard criteria such as behavior, actions and probable cause.
Calls to ACLU regarding on the matter were not returned by press time.
Says Robinson of the ACLU’s letter, “They assumed the worst.”