Official vows to stand strong against crime - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Official vows to stand strong against crime

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Posted: Saturday, September 13, 2008 6:26 pm | Updated: 11:32 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Throughout their primary campaign, my opponents said I was too tough on crime. They complained my decision to curtail plea bargains for criminals was misguided. They said my aggressive efforts to fight illegal immigration were too much. They pledged to end these policies if elected.

In one sense they are right: I am tough on crime and illegal immigration. That’s exactly what I promised the voters I would be when they first elected me county attorney.

Our office’s efforts, along with those of Sheriff Joe Arpaio and local law enforcement, have contributed to a reduction in Valley crime and illegal immigration. This is a remarkable success story that I’m proud of.

While we certainly have more work to do, my opponent thinks the strategy and tactics that have led to this achievement are wrong.

My opponent’s policies would reverse the gains we’ve made in promoting public safety.

While I’ve worked over the past four years to send record numbers of hardened criminals to jail and prison, my opponent has been soliciting and receiving a record amount of campaign cash from the lawyers for these criminals. Valley attorneys who defend murderers, rapists, molesters and white-collar offenders believe they have found a friend in my opponent. They know he has promised to bring back cushy plea bargains so their criminal clients don’t receive the lengthy prison sentences they’ve been receiving under policies I put in place.

I have fought for victims’ rights. My opponent has fought for criminals’ rights.

I have never represented the soft-on-crime ACLU organization.

My opponent has, and recently said he’s “proud” of that fact.

Unlike me, he has never been a prosecutor or prosecuted a single criminal case.

While I have pursued the death penalty against heinous crimes, my opponent criticizes these efforts and says we should focus more on prosecuting “other crimes.” Exactly what crimes are more deserving of justice than murder?

While we have been on the front lines and setting national standards for prosecuting and reducing illegal immigration, my opponent has been the author of numerous rejections of those same efforts. This is why the illegal immigration lobby supports my opponent and is trying desperately to defeat the sheriff and me.

In 2004 I surprised a lot of people by putting “Stop Illegal Immigration” on my campaign signs. What, they said, could a county prosecutor do about illegal immigration?

A lot, as it turns out. I followed through on that promise. As a result, we’re starting to see evidence that illegal immigration is going down a little in our county.

We’re a safer community for these efforts. But my opponent still doesn’t get it.

Instead, while I’ve been prosecuting criminal offenders and working with Valley police officers to help catch accused serial killers, my opponent complains that we spend too much money on public service announcements combating crime, drugs and illegal immigration.

He neglects to mention that a few years ago, his former boss prominently featured her own photo on highway billboards promoting Arizona tourism and “home cookin’.” He never complained or resigned from her staff when she did this.

People may not like everything that we do. We are all imperfect servants. But please know that as long as I’m county attorney, our office will stand up for you and not criminals. I will not treat illegal immigrants as a protected class who shouldn’t be prosecuted for their crimes. And I will work tirelessly to protect our neighborhoods from those who threaten us and violate our laws.

Andrew Thomas is Maricopa County attorney.

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