Phil Roberts Exaggerated the Phoenix PD's Kidnapping Statistics, Then Tried to Debunk His Own Numbers

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Police investigators who authored the 2007 homicide audit pointed out that when "a case agent fails to update case management with proper statute and/or offense codes" . . . it "could result in inaccurate homicide statistics."

Instead, police officials repeatedly told the public for months that the kidnapping counts were valid and had been thoroughly reviewed. Neither claim was true.

Even when PLEA requested all the reports tied with the 2008 statistics, police officials didn't actually have anyone read them to get a handle of what information the union was collecting.

On January 26, Harris told the Arizona Republic that the police officials had "gone over [the statistics] multiple times and can back up every number with a report."

Not even after New Times reviewed the police reports associated with the 2008 kidnapping statistics, finding that many were not linked at all to kidnapping cases, would Harris or police representatives offer an explanation.

Harris initially agreed to an interview, but the following week had a police spokesman cancel it. New Times ran its story ("Kidnapping Capital," February 17) without any comment from the Phoenix Police Department.

A police spokesman issued a statement the following week, on February 28, confirming New Times' findings. He said a police audit of the kidnapping and home invasion incidents "determined that there are reports that do not belong in these statistics."

Phoenix officials finally launched an internal investigation into the validity of the statistics and formed an outside panel to conduct its own review.

Cavazos reassigned Harris in early March to Sky Harbor International Airport, effectively stripping him of his stripes. Harris resigned on April 15.

Phoenix officials, awaiting the findings of federal auditors, are working now to rebuild trust among residents. They are also training detectives and their supervisors on proper case management.

In the end, there were no winners.

Public trust in an entire agency was fractured because police officials failed to deal with the controversy.

Several police lieutenants, including Burgett, and the entire police department are trying to repair their muddied reputations.

A Phoenix police chief who admirably served the city for decades ended his career under a cloud of controversy and allegations of corruption.

And Phil Roberts, a loyal cop who dedicated his life to the Phoenix Police Department, turned into a bitter detractor trying to discredit his own agency, and was crippled by stress.

Sources tell New Times that Roberts suffered a mild heart attack in May. They also report that he's now back on the job, and still writing memos.

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Monica Alonzo
Contact: Monica Alonzo