Retired Mesa master police officer and former Casa Grande police officer Bill Richardson lives in the East Valley.
While both those who support and despise Senate Bill 1070 dance in the streets proclaiming victory after the June 25 U.S. Supreme Court landmark decision on Arizona’s anti-immigration law, the revelers need to remember that there’s a whole lot of very serious felony crime occurring every day in Arizona and the vast majority of it never gets solved and has nothing to do with illegal immigration.
According to the latest report on crime in Arizona compiled by the state Department of Public Safety, in 2010 there was 1 murder and 4 rapes, 19 robberies, 41 aggravated assaults, 132 burglaries, 429 felony thefts and 55 cars stolen every twenty-four hours. In all, there were over a quarter of a million serious felony crimes committed during 2010. Based on the state’s population, the odds are about 1 in 25 that you will be the victim of a serious felony crime.
On top of those odds, approximately 1 in 5 serious felony crimes committed in Arizona are cleared by law enforcement. That’s an 80 percent failure rate.
And for those who want to blame the illegals for Arizona’s crime, according to the state Department of Corrections, the current racial make-up of the state’s prisons is as follows: 39.3 percent white, 28.8 percent Mexican-American, 13.3 percent black, 4.9 percent American Indian, 12.0 percent Mexican National, and 1.7 percent “other.”
Hundreds of thousands of murders, rapes and serious felony crimes that have gone unsolved over the last decade. And that’s just for the reported crimes.
The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network reports “54 percent of rapes/sexual assaults are not reported to the police. Factoring in unreported rapes, only about 3 percent of rapists ever serve a day in jail.”
Ongoing and unsolved crime aren’t Arizona’s only crime problems.
In the June 23 Arizona Republic, U.S. Marshal for Arizona David Gonzales was asked what he saw as the biggest crime threat? Gonzales responded, “The increase in homegrown organized-crime groups, prison and street gangs that have become linked to the transnational organized groups in Mexico. We know that the Mexican cartels are using domestic-criminal groups to enhance their influence in the U.S.”
Arizona’s prison and street gang population with known links to transnational crime groups from Mexico has grown from a few thousand in years past to an estimated 40,000.
For at least the last eight years, Arizona’s politically driven and myopic anti-crime focus has been on rounding up illegal aliens from kitchens and car washes while leaving the state ill prepared to deal with thousands of serious felony crimes and thousands of gang members.
And while rapists continue to rape and other criminals continue to commit serious felony crimes, Gov. Jan Brewer and much of the Arizona Legislature still continue to focus attention and resources on rounding up illegal aliens.
DPS, the state agency legally responsible for investigating organized crime, narcotics, operating the highway patrol, state crime lab and Arizona’s air rescue, has been gutted by a governor and legislature that have thrown millions at faux immigration fighters while looking the other way when it comes to DPS and serious felony crime. Last week it was reported DPS is down 253 officers and sergeants. No wonder organized crime gangs love Arizona.
In a June 9 East Valley Tribune story, “Gilbert to use Mesa PD lab for faster crime scene results,” it was reported it can take months to get DNA examination results from the DPS crime lab when it involves a violent crime and “2-3 years on a property crime.”
And Arizona is still without a statewide crime information and communication system.
This is no way to fight crime and win.
So while pro- and anti-1070 forces party up a storm and pledge to carry on the fight over immigration, they need to remember Arizona is a great place to be if you’re a criminal and a lousy place to be if you’re a current or future crime victim.
Once again Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu is beating the Fast and Furious drum to get attention.
Fast and Furious was a flawed operation to track firearms from gun dealers in the United States to drug traffickers in Mexico. It was conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, U.S. Attorney's Office in Phoenix and U.S. Department of Justice. It was a failed plan from the start.
Babeu, who is now running for re-election after dropping out of the race for U. S. Congress after he was exposed exposing himself on the internet, is trying desperately to shift attention away from his poor judgement and to the poor judgement exhibited by Washington politicians involved with Fast and Furious investigation.
Last October, Babeu, who was surrounded by nine county sheriffs, blasted the feds for Fast and Furious from the steps of the Law Enforcement Officer's Memorial at the state capitol. He demanded U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder's resignation.
Babeu leads a local anti-Fast and Furious cheering section all while U.S. Senator Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Congressman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., are already ripping Holder and have no intention of letting anyone from the Justice Department getting away with the failed program's outcomes.
I'm sure that these two Washington heavyweights are quite capable of getting to the bottom of what happened and holding those accountable who failed us.
While Grassley and Issa do their jobs, it would be nice if Babeu did his and focused on state and local crime and the public safety outcomes he can actually influence.
Yes, a Washington-bashing dog and pony show plays well for the media and helps raise campaign funds, but where's the concern for the ongoing failures within Arizona's law enforcement system? What about some serious talk regarding fixing what's broken at home when it comes to crime and illegal guns.
While Babeu regurgitates the tragic circumstances surrounding the murder of a U. S. Border Patrol Agent near Nogales that is linked to a Fast and Furious gun, he forgets to mention an ongoing tragedy involving the homegrown illegal use of of guns that has impacted Arizona for years.
Guns are the weapon of choice when it comes to cop killing in Arizona.
According to the June 8, 2010 study conducted by now retired Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley, 20 Arizona police officers have been murdered since 1993. Since that study was completed, four more officers have been added to that list.
The Romley report also said that since 1994 over 40 percent of Arizona cop killers were classified as prohibited possessors. And since 2003 that number jumped to over 60 percent. A prohibited possessor is someone who is legally unable to possess a firearm.
Three of four most recently murdered Arizona officers were shot by prohibited possessors.
How many citizens are murdered every year by prohibited possessors who are armed with illegally obtained guns?
Babeu’s office recently lost a machine gun that was stolen from a deputy sheriff’s take-home car. That breach of Pinal County Sheriff’s Office security gave a prohibited possessor a machine gun capable of firing 700-950 rounds a minute.
Instead of worrying about Fast and Furious and the politics of Washington, D. C., Babeu should be asking questions and demanding answers from the Arizona Department of Public Safety and state Attorney General about how prohibited possessors keep getting the guns they're using to shoot Arizona police officers and citizens, where the guns are coming from and what can be done to stop it?
The recent deaths of Tempe’s Butwin family, found shot to death west of Casa Grande, is a tragedy.Within hours of the discovery of the five bodies in their burned out car, Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu had many believing there’d been a mass murder perpetrated by Mexican drug cartels.
The office of county sheriff in Arizona dates back to territorial days when the sheriff was the only law. When Arizona became a state 100 years ago the office of sheriff was spelled out in the state Constitution.
Now it takes over 600 words in Arizona Revised Statutes to describe the sheriff’s duties and powers.