Phoenix Law Enforcement Association

PLEA Addresses City’s Kidnapping review Panel

Below are comments made by PLEA President Mark Spencer on April 11, 2011, to the panel convened by the city to review the kidnapping numbers.

The Phoenix Law Enforcement Association (PLEA) represents over 2300 rank-and-file Phoenix Police Officers and Detectives.  As far back as June 2008, PLEA relied upon Phoenix Police Management’s kidnapping number of 359 (now 358) when addressing the problem of illegal immigration and its negative impact on our members.  Late 2008, early 2009 Arizona Republic Reporter Mike Ferraresi communicated with the PLEA office that he had done a hard count of the HIKE numbers and had only found around 60 border related kidnapping numbers.  Since PLEA did not have access to the reports that Mr. Ferraresi did, our confidence in management’s kidnapping numbers remained undaunted.  In June 2009 PLEA representatives met with Senator John McCain in his Washington DC office – two months after PPD had submitted for federal monies through two grants.  In addressing our efforts seeking federal assistance with our border and policing issues, Senator McCain informed us if a problem could be tied to illegal immigration it would facilitate the federal government to invest in solving the problem.

CLICK HERE to read the related AZ Republic article

It should be noted that the issue presented to Congress through testimony and grant applications was “border related kidnappings” NOT kidnappings in general.  The definition of “border related kidnappings” was defined in the grant paperwork and in the verbal testimony of Chief Jack Harris and Mayor Phil Gordon.  The definition of a “border related kidnapping” as found in these sources included:

  • “…a significant crime issue unique to Phoenix.” – Operation Home Defense (program narrative attachment 2 pg. 1 of 8)
  • “…border related crime and violence is affecting our community.” – Jack Harris testimony to Congress April 20, 2009
  • “…sophisticated and organized groups are perpetrating these crimes.” – Operation Home Defense (program narrative attachment 2 pg. 1 of 8)
  • “…held in a Phoenix drop house and they say they will torture and kill her if we don’t pay them thousands of dollars.” –Phil Gordon testimony to Congress on April 20, 2009
  • “…Phoenix will divert significant resources on the spot – as many as 60 officers – to find, rescue and protect these kidnap victims.” – Phil Gordon testimony to Congress on April 20, 2009
  • “…the majority of which are directly connected to border issues of drugs and human smuggling.” – Project Eagle Eye (Statement of Problem pg. 17 of 49)

In summary, a “border related kidnapping” is defined as 1.) border related (tied to illegal immigration), 2.) unique to Phoenix, 3.) involving hostage/ransom/rescue, 4.) sophisticated criminal groups, and 5.) manpower intensive.  The City Manager’s office made it clear in several written communications what was NOT included in this list of kidnappings – reports that were written for information only or involved domestic violence or sexually motivated events.  As an important side note, every sexual assault contains elements of a kidnapping as well as armed robberies and custodial interference.  It would clearly fall outside of the running definition of “border related kidnapping” to include these types of reports to substantiate or rectify the problem presented by PPD management.

At the end of the summer in 2009, PLEA was advised through police personnel that there was problem with kidnapping figures.

In October 2010 City Councilman Sal DiCiccio as well as Judicial Watch received a list containing the now 358 “border related kidnappings” that were presented to Congress and the community.  PLEA subsequently read through all the reports that were provided through a public records request (there are still approximately 80 out of the 358 we haven’t received).  Our analysis fueled by our police experience in investigating crimes and producing reports indicated that 75% or the reports were not border related.  The amount that Mr. Ferrarsi had discovered appeared to be accurate.

PLEA believes the panel needs to consider four things:

  1. Read the 10-page kidnapping document provided by PPD management to Congress, councilmembers, and Judicial Watch.
  2. Read ALL 358 department reports (DRs) listed on this 10-page document.
  3. Ask the question: “Who authorized that these 358 reports be relabeled as kidnappings?”
  4. Ask the question: “Who authorized that these 358 reports be presented as ‘border related kidnappings?’”

There seems to be a strong current and clear insinuation in PPD management’s explanation to the kidnapping panel and/or the public that the problem with the inaccurate number of 358 lies with either “cops” or “computers.”  To infer that the HIKE squad did something wrong or that patrol officers mislabeled reports is outrageous.  To blame the software system when statistical personnel warned of disingenuous results is just as unacceptable.  PLEA believes the problem does not lie with cops or computers but with a flawed conscience of some in upper level police management.