Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon Fails to Grasp the Gravity of Scandal Involving Flawed Kidnapping Statistics

Categories: City Hall
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Public Safety Manager Jack Harris (left) with Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon
Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon tweets this from his iPhone: "The truth about the kidnapping stats? There was no fraud. I'm confident the audit will show that."

And Gordon, who has thrown his confidence and support behind Phoenix Public Safety Manager Jack Harris, who was stripped of his duties as police chief today, later tweets: The public would have learned more today if not for the gag order placed on the Phoenix PD. That's as disturbing as the Harris decision.

Gordon is beyond clueless if he thinks that the public will judge this situation based purely on a legal standard -- whether or not fraud was committed.

Yet Gordon's comments speak volumes about how he has been conducting business in the Mayor's Office for the past few years.

Um, Gordon's bringing a delegation of foreign dignitaries from Bahrain to Phoenix and setting it up so that his girlfriend Elissa Mullany gets paid is not illegal.

But it is still wrong.

The problem lies with Harris, the leader of a police department, repeatedly defending border-related kidnapping statistics that were used in two federal grants either knowing they were flawed or lying when he told the public that they conducted audits to verify the accuracy of those figures.

Whether this issue rises to the level of actual fraud does not excuse misleading the public and violating public trust.

Perhaps Gordon is defending Harris because he has to justify his own failure to dig deeper when questions were raised about the 2008 kidnapping statistics, which Gordon himself said were nearly all linked to border-related crimes.

After all, Gordon has been having monthly meetings with Harris to review crime and other public safety issues in Phoenix for years. There is no question Gordon and Harris are tight -- and not only on a professional level.

When Gordon's son -- a Phoenix police officer -- was place on administrative leave over allegations that he inappropriately touched someone, Harris took himself out of the loop on that investigation. Harris wanted to avoid any appearance of  conflict of interest.

And fellow tweeters weren't going to give Gordon a pass on this obvious attempt to set the bars so high so that he could claim victory for Harris if the panel of experts -- being convened by Phoenix officials to investigate how the numbers were flubbed -- comes back with anything less than actual fraud.

MayorGordon: I'm very disappointed in the Jack Harris decision. When the audit is complete, the public will see the truth.

AzWally: @MayorGordon a lot of us are disappointed in YOU for continuing to allow this embarassment to go on!

staceydillon: I wish mayors were more often quick 2 defend frontline ofcrs than a #chief that's been audited 2xs already on the same stats. @MayorGordon

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Tommy Collins
Tommy Collins

Crime stats are often a dichotomy in disguise. It may very well play out that the raw numbers were factual and validated, but misapplied. For each criminal event, such as the kidnapping of let's say 37 undocumented workers being kept at a drop house, there are 37 victims, all of whom could be counted as a kidnapping victim, even though the kidnapping was a single criminal event. Many of us think of the days when a family member of a well known celebrity was kidnapped and it was major news. However, if a bank is being robbed and the suspects see the cops surrounding the bank and hold everyone in the bank hostage, each of those victims is a kidnapping statistic. If DPS stops a van and thirteen suspects illegal immigrants are discovered, and found to have been held in the vehicle against their will (more money demanded than agreed upon) then there are 13 victims of kidnapping.

So, over the course of a couple years one can see how a limited number of criminal events can lead to a very large number of kidnap victims. If the data is sorted ONLY by number of kidnap victims related to human smuggling or transport it can appear that there is a HUGE numbers of kidnappings, when in truth the number of kidnapping events may actually be small.

Only a factual audit conducted by someone who understands the process of crime analysis will be accurate.

In defense of Mr. Harris, he may not have really had a clue of the accuracy of the numbers. I am not a fan of Mr. Harris, and I think his time for departure has arrived, but truth be known, he may not have had a clue.... and that's they way it works in very large agencies with the many layers between the chief executive and the bean counters...

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