CBS 5 – KPHO Audit: Hundreds of Phoenix child crime cases not properly investigated
Audit: Hundreds of Phoenix child crime cases not properly investigated
Posted: Mar 20, 2012 6:46 PMUpdated: Mar 20, 2012 8:47 PM
Submitted by Breann Bierman – email
PHOENIX (CBS5) –
The child crimes unit at the Phoenix Police Department was created to protect our most vulnerable, but an internal audit obtained by CBS 5 shows in hundreds of cases detectives failed to properly investigate the crimes.
“We have to own up as an organization to those employees who did not do their job,” said Sgt. Trent Crump, the spokesman for the Phoenix Police Department. “From officers to supervisors, who did not do their job.”
Auditors looked at one year, from June 2009 to June of 2010, that included 969 cases that 23 detectives worked on.
In 29 percent of those cases, detectives either didn’t interview victims and witnesses or did so improperly.
In ten percent, evidence was simply not collected or was collected improperly and in 41 percent, nearly half of a year’s worth of crimes, case management was faulty or incomplete.
“It never should have happened, don’t get me wrong. But it did and the question becomes now, how do we fix it? What do we do now to get our reputation back when it comes to crimes against children?” Crump said.
Crump said part of the problem was detectives working with a computer system that is 30 years old and department supervisors who created a culture that allowed this type of case neglect.
But the audit also shows that in many cases, detectives simply let CPS do all their work for them even though CPS isn’t trained for criminal work.
Detectives let 48 cases sit with no follow-up for more than a year.
“I won’t identify the employees that we are looking at internally as a result of this investigation,” Crump said.
Crump said to name officers involved would be against state law. But many of them are still with the department and to this point, no one has been disciplined.
Sources told CBS 5 that 15 officers who worked in child crimes received emails last week alerting them that they will have to face internal affairs for problems with the facts in their reports.
“Is it fair to say that the laziness or misconduct in the detectives involved in this review could have led to other crimes and other child victims?” CBS 5 asked Crump.
“Yes,” Crump said.
“Is that something that you are concerned about?” CBS 5 asked.
“Well absolutely, but without a crystal ball, how will we ever know?” Crump said. “How will we know that number? We won’t.”
Sixteen cold cases have been turned over to the county attorney’s office for prosecution.
Arrests have been made in two of those cases.
Hilario Sanchez was busted in connection with a child molestation case from 1999 and James Gonzalez was arrested for sexual conduct with a minor.
In both these cases, proper investigation could have locked up the suspects years earlier.
Stay with cbs5az.com and CBS-5 for more on this developing story.
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