Richardson: Arpaio’s antics fail to stop crime - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Richardson: Arpaio’s antics fail to stop crime

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Posted: Friday, January 23, 2009 6:32 pm | Updated: 12:44 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

The information below was supplied by the law enforcement agencies mentioned.

In 2008, if you murdered someone in the jurisdiction of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, you had 62 percent chance of getting away with murder. Arpaio’s office only cleared 38 percent of the 24 murders they investigated.

If you murdered someone in the jurisdiction of Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, your chances of getting away with murder are only about two in 10. His deputies solved 79 percent of 29 murders in that county.

In Mesa, where George Gascon is the police chief, your odds of beating a murder rap are less than one in 10. Mesa detectives solved 94 percent of that city’s 16 murders.

Nationally, police solve about 60 percent of all murders.

From 2004 to 2008, Pima County deputies investigated 131 murders. Maricopa County deputies investigated 129. Pima County has one third the population of Maricopa County, is nearly equal in size and runs along the Mexican border from Nogales to Yuma. Mesa had 115 murders and has a much larger population than Arpaio serves in the county’s unincorporated areas and through contracts with smaller communities.

In 2004, Arpaio’s office cleared 63 percent of 19 murders investigated, 36 percent of 25 murders in 2005, 57 percent of 28 murders in 2006 and 39 percent of 33 murders in 2007.

Dupnik’s office solved 59 percent of 27 murders in 2004, 65 percent of 20 murders in 2005, 64 percent of 25 murders in 2006 and 77 percent of 30 murders in 2007.

Since Gascon took command in 2006, Mesa’s homicide solve rate has increased from 69 percent of 33 murders committed in 2005 to 94 percent of the 16 murders in 2008. Murders have dropped by more than 50 percent since Gascon arrived.

Things got better in Pima County and Mesa and worse in Maricopa County.

Last week, Arpaio blamed the media for his office not solving multiple murders his office investigated in western Maricopa County.

“The local news media has never given the correct proportional coverage of these murders. Had it done so, these homicides might have been solved by now,” Arpaio said.

The Tribune responded in a Jan. 14 editorial by saying Arpaio is misguided in the blaming media: “Taxpayers expect the sheriff and his deputies, not the news media, to arrest criminal suspects and solve crimes.”

The editorial asked is “Arpaio trying to distract the public from the facts reported in the Tribune and elsewhere that murder rates have climbed in areas under his direct jurisdiction while he has diverted resources to these immigration sweeps in areas already patrolled by other local law enforcement?”

Following the editorial, Arpaio responded by proclaiming a 28 percent drop in county murders in 2008. While he takes a bow for a drop in homicides, he fails to mention how bad crime has gotten in the county since he and County Attorney Andrew Thomas joined forces to become wannabe immigration agents.

According to statistics from the FBI and MCSO, in 2004, when Arpaio was re-elected for the fourth time and Thomas was first elected, there were 6,971 serious crimes in the county’s unincorporated areas where Arapio’s deputies patrol and Thomas prosecutes. By 2008, the number of serious crimes had jumped to 10,168.

Many question Arpaio’s ways, his lack of cooperation with other police agencies and excessive spending of tax dollars. In the last 10 years, the sheriff has received an extra billion dollars from taxpayers in the form of a special tax and millions more in handouts from the Arizona Legislature. And county crime is still out of control.

Dupnik and Gascon are participants in multi-agency information, technology and resource sharing projects. They’ve joined forces with U.S. Marshal David Gonzales to identify and track down career criminals who are often at the root of serious crime. These three law enforcement leaders have redesigned policing, cut costs and reduced crime.

Arpaio has chosen not to participate.

Instead of blaming the media for his failures, Arpaio needs to get with the program. Bottom line, it’s easier to get away with murder where Arpaio runs a one-man show than it is where Sheriff Dupnik, Chief Gascon and Marshal Gonzales work together.

Retired Mesa master police officer Bill Richardson lives in the East Valley and can be reached at

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