Feathered Bastard

Mark Spencer's PLEA Supported Kidnapping Stats

As I've pointed out in my cover story this week on Phoenix Law Enforcement Association president Mark Spencer and his sleazy ways, PLEA swallowed the Phoenix Police Department's controversial kidnapping stats whole hog at one time. Long before they used them to bash ex-Police Chief Jack Harris as corrupt.

Now like some third-rate Joe McCarthy wannabes, Spencer and his goons are using the faulty numbers to go after other PPD officers. This time, they're targeting PPD Lieutenant Lauri Burgett, insinuating that a production company she had incorporated for seven months in 2010 is the real reason the kidnapping stats were bad.

But wait, I thought it was because Harris was corrupt? After all, didn't Harris single-handedly skew the numbers to win a $1.7 million federal grant to help fight crime, even though he didn't score any of that loot himself?

Nah, now it's all because Burgett wanted to make money on a production company.


Anyway, check this passage from the latest post by PLEA on its Web site, the one aimed  at Burgett:

"One border-related kidnapping a week in Phoenix was a serious problem that deserved federal investment.  A question that continues to pop up is: What would be the reason to inflate kidnapping numbers to present the problem as one border related kidnapping every day?"

Of course, what PLEA never explains is why the union and Mark Spencer did their best to  promote those numbers. Ditto Sergeant Phil Roberts, whom the PLEA newsletter RECAP referenced as an authority in June of 2008.

At that time, Roberts was not the "whistleblower" PLEA and its media partners hail him as today for criticizing the stats as inflated. No, sir. In 2008, Roberts was pimping those numbers, telling anyone who would listen that Phoenix was the "kidnapping capital" of the country.

And PLEA's muck-a-mucks accepted the kidnapping stats without question, and offered up those stats to PLEA's members as 100 percent legit.

PLEA trustee Ken Crane went so far as to pen a piece for RECAP on a kidnapping seminar where Roberts and Sergeant Alex Ortiz gave a two hour presentation. The title is rendered in large, bold letters: "PHOENIX AZ, KIDNAP CAPITAL USA."     

Check this factoid related by Crane, related without a hint of skepticism:

"Phoenix now holds the dubious honor of being the kidnap capital of the U.S. In the past year there were 359 kidnappings that occurred in Phoenix and every one of them was tied to illegal immigration in one way or another. It is estimated that only 1/3 of the total kidnappings that occur are actually reported."         

As I mention in this week's feature, Crane uses the "kidnap capital" line to push a hard stance against illegal immigration, stating that, "we either pay for it on the front end or pay for it on the back end," and, "right now we're paying heavily on the back end because we've refused to be proactive on the front end."

Indeed, Spencer and PLEA have exploited the kidnapping stats to beat the nativist drum at least up until May of last year, when Spencer regurgitated the "kidnap capital" line before a crowd of thousands at Diablo Stadium in Tempe during a Tea Party rally there.

To borrow PLEA's query, what would be Spencer's reason to hustle inflated kidnapping stats? 

Well, bigotry, for one...

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons