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Phoenix Kidnapping Statistics: Review Panel Includes Retired Judges, FBI Agent

A panel of independent experts charged with reviewing Phoenix's kidnapping statistics will be headed by Karen Thoreson, president of Alliance for Innovation.

The other members are retired FBI Agent Larry McCormick, retired Arizona Court of Appeals Judge Cecil Patterson, retired Arizona Supreme Court Justice Michael D. Ryan and Michael White, an associate professor at ASU's School of Criminology and Criminal Justice.

City officials convened the panel after months of questions about the veracity of Phoenix's border-related kidnapping stats. Although the figures were long defended by Public Safety Manager Jack Harris, it turned out that kidnapping stats weren't entirely accurate.

The figures were used in two federal grants, which has led Harris' critics to allege that the numbers were intentionally inflated to win federal grant money.

Harris, who was serving as the day-to-day police chief, has been reassigned. It is unclear whether the move will be permanent.

The group's first meeting is set for March 25 at City Hall and it is expected to deliver a progress report to City Manager David Cavazos by May 3.

In a memo from Assistant City Manager Ed Zuercher to Cavazos, Zuercher notes that the duties of the panel includes reviewing kidnapping statistics for 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010, the process used to validate the statistics for accuracy, and the grant applications that used the kidnapping numbers.

Members also will evaluate whether more extensive review of other PPD statistical reporting is necessary and recommend any needed changes.

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