Phoenix police have beefed up their security detail for Mayor Phil Gordon after he received death threats apparently prompted by his opposition to the state's new law cracking down on illegal immigration.
The mayor is under round-the-clock surveillance with plainclothes officers outside his north Phoenix home while he sleeps.
One threat claimed Gordon would be killed by sniper fire, said Cmdr. Jeff Hynes, who oversees the mayor's security detail.
"They're talking about wanting to kill him, punch him," said Hynes, who explained that the threats were written on blogs and in website comments.
Gordon said he hasn't been able to go to the grocery store alone or be outside the sight of his security detail since Gov. Jan Brewer signed Senate Bill 1070 last month. The law requires local and state law enforcement to question people about their immigration status during legal encounters if there's reason to suspect they're in the country illegally. It also makes it a state crime to be in the United States illegally.
The mayor and Phoenix Public Safety Manager Jack Harris have publicly raised concerns about the law's economic impact on Phoenix, because of opponents' calls for boycotts and the filing of civil-rights lawsuits.
Gordon usually has four detectives and a sergeant for his personal security. The Arizona Republic reports that police added marked patrol units for the mayor's security at night. Gordon started using internal-affairs detectives rather than beat officers after his neighborhood precinct and the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association expressed concerns.
Hynes said the department is using overtime to pay for the increase in security and estimated it will cost around $500,000 annually for the city.
Gordon said he didn't ask for the added security and was following the orders of the police department.
"The day I got in, I said I'd let the professionals decide all Phoenix (police) operations, including security," Gordon said. "I don't question what they're doing or not doing. They risk their lives, and I'm grateful."