Phoenix Kidnapping Statistics Review Panel Finds No Fraud Committed by Phoenix Police Department

A panel convened to review the kidnapping statistics Phoenix touted in 2008 found that Phoenix police officials did not intentionally inflate the figures.

In fact, the panel found there were twice as many cases  -- 668 instead of 358 -- identified that fit the criteria of a border-related kidnapping in that year.

"We've all learned many lessons from this experience," said City Manager David Cavazos. He said he is pleased that the city's worst fears that intentional acts of fraud may have been committed were laid to rest.

"We will move forward and do whatever is possible to make improvements," Cavazos said.

Police reported 358 kidnapping cases in 2008, and allegations were later raised by Phoenix Police Sergeant Phil Roberts and the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association that those figures were intentionally inflated by police officials to obtain federal funding.

However, after reviewing hundreds of other police reports, the panel and city police investigators say there found 668 kidnapping cases.

A federal investigation of the kidnapping statistics is still under way.

While police officials are vindicated against allegations of fraud -- panel members did criticize Phoenix officials for not calling for an audit sooner.

Panel members say "there were mistakes made all the way through," from line officers to police management.

The panel found that Phoenix's aging, and very limited, computer system was partly to blame. Police officers logging reports can only enter one crime code -- leaving them to choose between several possible choices.

For example, if someone is carjacked, punched in the face and transported in the car for a few miles before being forced out of the vehicle, the time during which the person was in the car fits the state's legal definition of a kidnapping. But can also be a car theft or assault. The police officer who responds can only choose one of those potential crimes for the report title.

Supervisors are supposed to review the reports, but that simply wasn't happening.

Cavazos wouldn't comment about former Public Safety Manager Jack Harris and whether he would have been disciplined if he hadn't retired. Harris retired his post shortly after Cavazos reassigned him to Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport amid the fracas over the validity of the kidnapping stats.

Click here to read the Kidnapping Statistics Review Panel's full report.