Biden DOJ Report Alleges Phoenix Police Violate Rights Based on Race; Insiders Warn Consent Decree Could Be Imminent

Phoenix Police Department

The Biden Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a 126-page report on Thursday claiming that it found probable cause after a three year investigation that the Phoenix Police Department (PPD) violated the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments when dealing with the public. The investigation began in August 2021, alleging five problem areas. The DOJ accused PPD of using excessive force, discriminating against nonwhites, treating homeless people unlawfully, violating the First Amendment, and discriminating against the mentally ill.

A PPD officer who preferred to remain anonymous told The Arizona Sun Times that there were all kinds of problems with the report. He said the consultants hired by the DOJ to visit PPD were fresh out of law school and knew nothing about law enforcement. He said they pulled a few files and didn’t interview relevant people. There was a lot they didn’t do, he said. Additionally, the cases cited in the report are old, and key details were omitted from the report, including that those cases were resolved.

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Phoenix Homicides Down as Police Report Success Targeting ‘Most Violent’ and ‘Repeat Offenders’

Phoenix Police Department

Homicides in Phoenix declined in 2023, with law enforcement crediting the success of their new policy to target repeat and violent offenders.

Phoenix saw 198 criminal homicides in 2023, and police received reports of 54,472 violent and property crimes in total. The number of homicides marked an 11 percent decrease from 2022, when the city reported 223 homicides.

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State Bar of Arizona Suspends License of Former Maricopa County Prosecutor April Sponsel for Two Years Over Prosecuting Antifa

The State Bar of Arizona’s disciplinary judge Margaret Downie, along with a hearing panel of two others, suspended the law license of longtime Maricopa County prosecutor April Sponsel on December 19 mainly for prosecuting multiple people at an Antifa riot that took place in downtown Phoenix on October 17, 2020 after the death of George Floyd. The 71-page Decision and Order Imposing Sanctions also faulted her decision to charge a thief accused of assaulting police officers. The Arizona bar has come under increasing criticism in recent years for targeting conservative attorneys.

The trial was held in October, with over 8,100 pieces of evidence, including documents and videos, and 30 witnesses testifying. In February 2021, then-Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel made a decision to dismiss all the charges. ABC-15 credited their reporting with the reason for the dismissal. “On February 12, 2021, MCAO dismissed the gang charges against protesters following a week of intense scrutiny because of ABC15’s reporting,” the news site said. The station interviewed the rioters and portrayed them as peaceful protesters.

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Arizona House Republicans Urge Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego Against ‘Relinquishing Local Control’ of Police With Federal Consent Decree

Mayor Kate Gallego

Arizona State Representative David Marshall (R-Snowflake) led a group of 20 Republican lawmakers in a letter urging Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego not to enter into a consent decree with the Department of Justice (DOJ), warning it would “turn control” of the Phoenix Police Department (PPD) “over to the federal government.”

Reports indicate Gallego is considering whether to sign a potential consent decree, even as Phoenix City Council signals its potential opposition, and the move is opposed by Phoenix law enforcement groups.

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Bar Disciplinary Trial Wraps Up Against Former Maricopa County Prosecutor Who Charged Antifa Demonstrators at Violent Protest in Phoenix

The disciplinary court of the State Bar of Arizona wrapped up a trial a few days ago against April Sponsel, a former longtime prosecutor with the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office (MCAO), related to gang charges she brought against Antifa and others arrested in October 2020 for rioting in downtown Phoenix. Bar prosecutors claimed she overcharged the rioters by using gang statutes, including bringing charges against a man who claimed he was just an observer taking photos, Ryder Collins. The Arizona bar seeks to suspend her license to practice law for two years. 

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Arizona State Representatives Request Investigation into Transfer of Unclaimed Firearms to Ukraine

Two Arizona Republican State Representatives have filed an SB 1487 complaint with Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes requesting an investigation and report into an ordinance the City of Phoenix passed in June authorizing the transfer of hundreds of unclaimed firearms to the National Police of Ukraine.

The National Police of Ukraine is the national, and only, police service of Ukraine.

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Phoenix Crime Down in 2023, but Car Thefts, Rapes, and Officer Involved Shootings Rise

The City of Phoenix and Phoenix Police Department released crime statistics for the first six months of 2023, revealing that overall crime is down 2 percent, even as auto thefts, rape, and police shootings rise in the city.

Numbers released by the city show violent crime is down 2 percent in Arizona’s capital, and property crimes are down 19 percent, when the first six months of 2023 are compared with the same period in 2022. Still, the city reported an increase in rapes, increase in auto thefts, and officer-involved shootings.

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Phoenix Law Enforcement Association Applauds Indictment of Suspect Who Assaulted a Police Officer

The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office (MCAO) announced Thursday that Rudy Gomez, 29, has been indicted after brutally assaulting Phoenix Police Officer George Manciu during a domestic abuse incident. In response, the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association (PLEA) said the indictment was the right call.

“The Phoenix Law Enforcement Association is pleased that the Grand Jury found sufficient probable cause to indict the suspect in the brutal attack on our officer. Any other outcome would have been wrong. We thank the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office for its pursuit of justice,” PLEA said in a statement shared with The Arizona Sun Times.

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AmericaPack and EZAZ Present Strategy to ‘Flip Arizona Solid Red’

AmericaPack and EZAZ, two of the main conservative grassroots organizations in Arizona, are pairing up to “flip Arizona solid red.” EZAZ’s Merissa Hamilton spoke to a large group of AmericaPack supporters Friday evening about the “Arizona Rescue Mission” the groups have crafted to get more voters voting Republican and running for office. State Rep. Alex Kolodin (R-Scottsdale) and State Rep. Joseph Chaplik (R-Scottsdale) provided updates on the Arizona Legislature, and a Phoenix Police Department (PPD) sergeant talked about the lack of patrol officers within the PPD.

Hamilton told the attendees about the new grassroots project, “[This is] so that we have the infrastructure built so that when the election cycle comes around next time, not only will this room be filled, but it will be filled with new faces with people that have not been as involved … and it will be because of us.”

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Two Phoenix Police Officers Will Not be Charged for Excessive Use of Force, Maricopa County Attorney Says

The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office (MCAO) announced Monday that two Phoenix Police officers, Nicholas Beck and Eddie Becerra, would not be charged for excessive use of force. In response, Phoenix Police Department Interim Chief Michael Sullivan said he did his part by giving the MCAO all the evidence for the case.

“The case stems from a use of force incident on October 27, 2022, that occurred after a subject shot at Officer Becerra and Officer Nicholas Beck,” Sullivan said in a statement emailed to The Arizona Sun Times. “It is my responsibility to ensure an appropriate investigation is conducted when there is reason to believe a crime has been committed. That was done in this case and the investigation was turned over to MCAO for the criminal justice process to continue.”

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Phoenix Police Make Largest Single Seizure of Fentanyl Pills in Department History

The Phoenix Police Department (PHXPD) shared Friday that officials made the largest single seizure of fentanyl pills in the department’s history this week.

“Phoenix police detectives with the Drug Enforcement Bureau have made the single largest fentanyl bust in Phoenix police history. Two men have been arrested in connection to the seizure which netted more than one million fentanyl pills,” according to a media advisory shared with the Arizona Sun Times.

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Phoenix Hires New Interim Police Chief

Arizona’s largest city has officially hired a new interim police chief after the City Council approved his contract. 

“I want to thank City Manager Jeff Barton for this opportunity to work with the women and men of the Phoenix Police Department [PPD] and the communities which make up the fabric of Phoenix,” said Interim Chief Michael Sullivan. “I also want to thank Mayor Gallego and the City Council for approving my employment agreement. This is an important time for the City and the Phoenix Police Department.”

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Maricopa County Attorney Changes Policy for Cases Involving Gun Violence

Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell announced Thursday that she would change prosecution policies for cases involving gun violence in an attempt to ensure violent criminals face jail time.

“The revision to our plea policies recognizes that these crimes will not be tolerated in Maricopa County. Those who choose to put the residents of this county at risk by using a firearm in the commission of felony will be held accountable,” Mitchell said. “I will not let the Valley of the Sun and surrounding communities become another San Francisco or Chicago where law and order has been overlooked by prosecutors, which has caused unnecessary chaos.”

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Phoenix Police Seize Hundreds of ‘Crime Guns’ in Crackdown Operation

The Phoenix Police Department (PHXPD) announced that after roughly a month after the launch of “Operation Gun Crime Crackdown” (OGCC), officers seized hundreds of crime guns to reduce gun violence in the city.

“The results of this targeted effort are a great example of how working with our law enforcement partners can enhance the great work the men and women of the Phoenix Police Department do every day,” said Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams.

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Phoenix Detective Hospitalized After Being Ambushed, Shot

A detective with the Phoenix Police Department was hospitalized after being ambushed and shot by two individuals, according to the law enforcement office.

Two men, identified as Ahmani Gordon and Aaron Ware, approached the car from both sides of the vehicle and fired shots at the officer. One stood on the passenger side and the other in front of the vehicle, reportedly firing more than a dozen shots at the vehicle.

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City of Phoenix to Vote on Increasing Phoenix Police Officers’ Starting Salaries by 40 Percent

The Phoenix City Council is set to vote next Wednesday on a salary hike for new recruits that would lift their base pay from $48,942 (or $51,459 if they have college degrees) to $68,661. Officers making less than the new minimum base pay would be brought up to $72,779, and pay grade steps from recruits to assistant chiefs would increase. Other Phoenix Police Department (PPD) employees would receive a 3% pay increase in October.

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Attorney General Mark Brnovich Indicts Man Arrested for Illicit Drug Trafficking

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich (R) announced the indictment of a man recently arrested on drug trafficking-related charges.

“On May 11, 2022, law enforcement arrested [Jose Luis] Montoya Miranda on suspicion of trafficking illicit drugs. Law enforcement located approximately 140,000 fentanyl pills, over 11 pounds of fentanyl powder, 2.11 pounds of heroin, 2.9 pounds of methamphetamine, and a handgun. The charges are based on an investigation conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA),” according to a statement by the attorney general’s office.

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State Rep. Espinoza Sponsors Bill to Fight Back Against 6,500 Percent Surge in Catalytic Converter Thefts

Diego Espinoza

The theft of catalytic converters has become a big problem in Arizona, and State Rep. Diego Espinoza (D-Tolleson) is sponsoring legislation to expand the law against it. Current law only prohibits buying or selling a used catalytic converter outside of regular transactions; HB 2652 goes beyond that to make it illegal to possess, solicit, or advertise a used catalytic converter outside of regular transactions. It would also mandate reporting sales to DPS and tracking.

HB 2652 looks very likely to pass, as 49 members of the House voted for it and only 10 Republicans voted against it. It passed the Senate Committee on Transportation and Technology 9-0, and is now headed for the Senate Rules Committee. 

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Phoenix Police Forced to Transfer Specialty Officers to Patrol to Deal With Shortage

The Phoenix Police Department (PPD) announced on Wednesday that around 100 officers and detectives from specialty divisions such as Violent Crimes are being transferred to patrol units due to a severe lack of officers on the streets and handling 911 calls. Their goal is to get the number of officers on patrol duty back up over 1,000. 

The PPD acknowledged officer attrition reached an “unprecedented” rate in early 2021. “These trends indicated the loss rate would become critical due to insufficient hiring and increased employee separations,” Phoenix Police Department Chief Jeri L. Williams said in the plan. 

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Five Police Officers Shot, Four Others Injured in Phoenix Shootout

Details emerged throughout the day Friday of an incident that led to five Phoenix police officers being shot, four injured by bullet shrapnel, one suspect dead and a woman injured. 

The deadly incident unfolded just after 2 a.m. on Friday morning, when police responded to a shooting at a Phoenix home, according to Phoenix Police Department spokesperson Sgt. Andy Williams. 

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Poll: Phoenicians Blame Democratic Mayor and City Council, Not Police for Public Safety Problems

A survey conducted by OH Predictive Insights on behalf of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association (PLEA) found that Phoenix voters overwhelmingly fault Democratic Mayor Kate Gallego and the Democrat dominated City Council for public safety problems. More than three in five Phoenix voters (62%) blame them, while only 15% say the Phoenix Police Department is responsible. Hispanics were slightly more likely to blame the mayor and city council, 64%.

“It is evident that the recent anti-police rhetoric within the Phoenix City Council does not match voter sentiment within the City of Phoenix,” said Michael “Britt” London, President of PLEA. “Phoenix voters value our police officers and recognize that we need additional resources to protect our community and bring crime rates down. Voters clearly want the Mayor and Phoenix City Council to take action and direct additional funding and resources to the Phoenix Police Department to keep residents safe.”

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Moses Sanchez Announces Campaign for Phoenix City Council to Replace Term Limited Sal DiCiccio

With popular conservative Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio term limited, local activist and professor Moses Sanchez, a Republican, announced he is running for the District 6 slot based in Ahwatukee. He ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Phoenix in 2018, a difficult race for Republicans since Phoenix has more Democrats, but District 6 leans Republican. 

“I’m proud to call Ahwatukee home,” he said in a statement on August 11. “I’ve raised my family in Phoenix, served on our local school board, run for Mayor, and worked to grow a small business. I’m running for Phoenix City Council to provide the same opportunities this city has given me and stand up for the most overlooked community in Phoenix.”

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