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Neo-Nazi Remorse? Ex-Skinhead Frank Meeink Says He Has It, and the Career Criminal Squad is Saved

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HATE SQUAD SAVED

As I've written two columns arguing for the retention of the Phoenix Police Department's Career Criminal Squad, the unit that investigates and helps to secure prosecutions against violent white supremacists and other offenders, I'm happy to announce that CCS has been spared the budget ax by Phoenix City Manager David Cavazos.

Although the squad was officially disbanded as of April 5, Cavazos reversed the decision two days later because of the concerns of community activists such as Ann Malone, and organizations such as PLEA, the Phoenix police union, and the Arizona ADL.

In a conference call with Cavazos and Phoenix Assistant Chief Joe Yahner, miscommunication between the city manager and the police department reared its head.

Assistant City Manager Ed Zuercher later put the decision in writing. And members of the squad were told they could keep their jobs. Two men from the five-member unit already had left for other positions. They have been offered the chance to return.

It's a stunning about-face, and one I congratulate both Cavazos and the Phoenix cops for making. The CCS' work is vital to arresting and convicting those who commit violent hate crimes — the sort of felonies Frank Meeink used to commit with impunity in his youth.

I've been asked why I welcomed the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association's advocacy on behalf of the CCS, when I've knocked both PLEA and its President Mark Spencer in the past for espousing nativism and supporting bigots such as state Senator Russell Pearce.

The reason is that the battle to save the CCS was too important. And now that CCS is safe, I can get back to blasting PLEA whenever I can.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons