Saturday, June 4, 2011

Maricopa Police Department: Maricopa Police Department is target of scathing grand jury report - latimes.com

Maricopa Police Department: Maricopa Police Department is target of scathing grand jury report - latimes.com

For a two-man operation, the Police Department in tiny Maricopa has developed an outsize reputation.

One local businessman even put up billboard-size signs outside his gas station warning travelers to watch themselves because the department "wants your cars and your money."

Now a Kern County grand jury has agreed — and gone a step further. In a scathing report, it urged Maricopa, population 1,200, to eliminate a Police Department it describes as so incompetent that it can't keep track of the weapons in its custody or the citations issued by its officers.

In a separate report, the grand jury said that the Maricopa officers routinely stop drivers for minor violations such as cracked windshields and unlit rear plates. Drivers unable to pay fines and $150 impound fees see their cars hauled off to an impound yard and ultimately sold by the city — which keeps 25% of the proceeds, the report said.

Critics have accused the city of exploiting farmworkers who were passing through.

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