Got'em

GITEM, the state's $12 million antigang task force, storms Casa Grande and shoots a smalltime scofflaw in the back

Dickson says that in order to convict Campbell on up to three counts of aggravated assault, prosecutors needed only to prove that he was armed with a knife during the chase.

"Basically, if everything had gone wrong in court, we would have been looking at a possible sentence of 105 years," Dickson says in explaining why Campbell agreed to plead guilty to one count for a much softer sentence.

Greg Bizzozero, the prosecutor assigned to the case, says Campbell should have gone to trial if he felt wronged.

When asked about the possibility that Campbell might have been a crime victim, Bizzozero says the matter was resolved to his satisfaction by the Casa Grande investigation, which cleared Officer Freese of any wrongdoing.

DPS let Freese return to work within a week of the shooting.
Besides, Bizzozero says, Campbell wasn't really shot in the back. "Our feeling was that he was shot more in the side," he says.

GITEM chief Gonzales, echoing the official line of the Pinal County Attorney's Office, says the shooting was justified and that the investigation into it was valid.

He refused to discuss the case further because of the lawsuit, he says. Likewise, he adds, all of the officers involved in the shooting have been told not to discuss it with the media.

In the meantime, GITEM marches on. Even though the sweeps are its most visible task, the focus has shifted to include education and intelligence gathering, Gonzales says.

"Before, the approach to gangs was very parochial," Gonzales says. "Once a gang had passed out of their area, police would say, 'Well, that's it for us. Let the other guys deal with them.'

". . . but you're never going to make a dent in the problem like that. These gangs are highly mobile, and we need to be, too."

State Representative Paul Newman, a Bisbee Democrat who sits on a committee that oversees audits of state agencies, says that if Gonzales' claims are accurate, the $12 million the Legislature has handed to GITEM so far might have been money well spent. However, he has yet to see an accounting of GITEM's work.

"That might be something we need to take a closer look at," he says. "Frankly, I have no idea what they've been doing out there."

Neither does the state Auditor General's Office. When asked about GITEM, Kim Hildebrand, who is in charge of conducting performance audits, tells New Times, "We've never done any kind of work on them. I don't even know who they are.

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