While both those who support and despise Senate Bill 1070 dance in the streets proclaiming victory after the June 25 U.S. Supreme Court landmark decision on Arizona’s anti-immigration law, the revelers need to remember that there’s a whole lot of very serious felony crime occurring every day in Arizona and the vast majority of it never gets solved and has nothing to do with illegal immigration.
According to the latest report on crime in Arizona compiled by the state Department of Public Safety, in 2010 there was 1 murder and 4 rapes, 19 robberies, 41 aggravated assaults, 132 burglaries, 429 felony thefts and 55 cars stolen every twenty-four hours. In all, there were over a quarter of a million serious felony crimes committed during 2010. Based on the state’s population, the odds are about 1 in 25 that you will be the victim of a serious felony crime.
On top of those odds, approximately 1 in 5 serious felony crimes committed in Arizona are cleared by law enforcement. That’s an 80 percent failure rate.
And for those who want to blame the illegals for Arizona’s crime, according to the state Department of Corrections, the current racial make-up of the state’s prisons is as follows: 39.3 percent white, 28.8 percent Mexican-American, 13.3 percent black, 4.9 percent American Indian, 12.0 percent Mexican National, and 1.7 percent “other.”
Hundreds of thousands of murders, rapes and serious felony crimes that have gone unsolved over the last decade. And that’s just for the reported crimes.
The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network reports “54 percent of rapes/sexual assaults are not reported to the police. Factoring in unreported rapes, only about 3 percent of rapists ever serve a day in jail.”
Ongoing and unsolved crime aren’t Arizona’s only crime problems.
In the June 23 Arizona Republic, U.S. Marshal for Arizona David Gonzales was asked what he saw as the biggest crime threat? Gonzales responded, “The increase in homegrown organized-crime groups, prison and street gangs that have become linked to the transnational organized groups in Mexico. We know that the Mexican cartels are using domestic-criminal groups to enhance their influence in the U.S.”
Arizona’s prison and street gang population with known links to transnational crime groups from Mexico has grown from a few thousand in years past to an estimated 40,000.
For at least the last eight years, Arizona’s politically driven and myopic anti-crime focus has been on rounding up illegal aliens from kitchens and car washes while leaving the state ill prepared to deal with thousands of serious felony crimes and thousands of gang members.
And while rapists continue to rape and other criminals continue to commit serious felony crimes, Gov. Jan Brewer and much of the Arizona Legislature still continue to focus attention and resources on rounding up illegal aliens.
DPS, the state agency legally responsible for investigating organized crime, narcotics, operating the highway patrol, state crime lab and Arizona’s air rescue, has been gutted by a governor and legislature that have thrown millions at faux immigration fighters while looking the other way when it comes to DPS and serious felony crime. Last week it was reported DPS is down 253 officers and sergeants. No wonder organized crime gangs love Arizona.
In a June 9 East Valley Tribune story, “Gilbert to use Mesa PD lab for faster crime scene results,” it was reported it can take months to get DNA examination results from the DPS crime lab when it involves a violent crime and “2-3 years on a property crime.”
And Arizona is still without a statewide crime information and communication system.
This is no way to fight crime and win.
So while pro- and anti-1070 forces party up a storm and pledge to carry on the fight over immigration, they need to remember Arizona is a great place to be if you’re a criminal and a lousy place to be if you’re a current or future crime victim.
• Retired Mesa master police officer Bill Richardson lives in the East Valley and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.