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Joe Arpaio's Not the Only Cop in Phoenix Who Sucks at Investigating Sex Crimes

In the wake of the national media attention his office has received over hundreds of botched sex-crime investigations, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has made no secret that there are "other local agencies" who absolutely suck at investigating sex crimes, too.

The sheriff hasn't named names, but we're stunned to find out he's right...kinda.

The Phoenix Police Department has run into its own issues when it comes to mishandled sex-crime investigations -- and its botched cases exclusively involve children.

Because the mishandled cases don't involve America's self-proclaimed "toughest sheriff," the Phoenix P.D.'s blunders didn't receive national media attention -- and only garnered a small amount of publicity here in the Valley.

Phoenix Sergeant Trent Crump tells New Times that the department is in the process of reviewing more than 2,500 child sex-crime cases that had many of the same problems -- lack of supplements, lack of followup investigations, etc. -- as the MCSO's botched cases.

In September, an auditor from the Professional Standards Bureau found problems with a lot of investigations conducted by retired Phoenix Detective Alan Maciver.

The questionable investigations prompted an audit of all of Maciver's cases that still fell within the statute of limitations, and could still be prosecuted.

While auditing Maciver's cases, a city auditor took a random sample of other cases in the department's child sex crimes unit and found several other cases -- from other investigators -- that didn't have the proper documentation on file, or may not have been handled correctly.

Crump says the department determined that of the thousands of cases it reviewed -- dating as far back as 1999 -- hundreds of cases weren't handled correctly.

In September, when word of the mishandled cases fell in the lap of acting Phoenix police Chief Joe Yahner, he sought to fix the problem immediately.

"No excuses here, whatsoever," Yahner told a City Council subcommittee. "We have policies and processes in place that we didn't follow to the letter of the law and we should have."

Since then, Crump says, the department has had three separate task forces look at the cases to figure out how to move forward. Many of the cases are still being reviewed, he says.


 

"We understand that if we've allowed some of these to slip through the cracks, then we need to do what we have to do to make it right," Crump says. "No excuses."

The several hundred cases the Phoenix P.D. mishandled date back to 1999 -- they're not just from a two-year period in a small city like El Mirage. The Phoenix P.D. also handles a lot more sex crimes than the MCSO does, but it's a "valid comparison," Crump says.

"Child sex-crime cases are tough to investigate -- they're very difficult, but I think we dropped the ball," he says. "Going forward, how do we fix it? How do we right the ship at this point? And that's what we're gonna focus on. We're not gonna blame other agencies -- we need to fix our own problem."

Crump says a "quality assurance" task force was formed this week to make sure that all child sex-crime investigations going forward meet the department's new criteria for how to properly investigate these types of crimes.

"I think what we would ask anybody to take a look at is our response to it and the actions that we've taken since it was brought to our attention," he says. "[Fixing the problem is] our top priority."

MCSO Lieutenant Justin Griffin didn't immediately return a call this afternoon asking about any changes that were made in 2007, when the botched investigations were first brought to Arpaio's attention.

Now that news of the bungled investigations has gone national, the sheriff says he plans to "order a national search to get the best person

in this country to come here and we're gonna get advice, consultation -- we're gonna find out how we can correct these deficiencies that have occurred in this office."

That, of course, comes only as Democratic lawmakers call for the sheriff's head, and national outrage grows with Arpaio's half-assed apologies.

"If there were any victims, I apologize to those victims," Arpaio said Monday.

It's not an "if," sheriff.


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