Maricopa County experiences dramatic decrease in crime and illegal immigration

“The Maricopa Model” Shows Tough Policies Work
More Prison, Fewer Illegals, Less Crime

County Attorney Andrew Thomas announced today that despite a rising population and other factors that generally drive up the crime rate, Maricopa County has experienced a dramatic decrease in both crime and illegal immigration. These clear trends are occurring county-wide, and reveal the impact of both effective collaboration among law enforcement agencies and tough and visionary prosecution policies in the County Attorney’s Office.

The crime rate per 100,000 people in Maricopa County decreased 8% from 2007 to 2008 and 18% from 2004 to 2008. During this same period, the violent crime rate in Maricopa County dropped 8% and the property crime rate fell 21%. This decline occurred even though the county’s population actually grew by just under 11 percent during the same period.
Between 2004 and 2008 the crime rate fell by:

32.6% in Gilbert

25.6% in Mesa

25.3% in Tempe

20.1% in Chandler

18.0% in Scottsdale

15.7% in Phoenix

15.2% in Peoria

06.3% in Glendale

This dramatic success story runs contrary to conventional wisdom among criminologists. Thomas attributed these trends to three major factors. First, police agencies are using current technology and tactics to effectively address specific crime problems in their areas. There has also been enhanced coordination with the County Attorney’s Office. One example is the identity theft protocol signed by Valley police agencies in 2005, an agreement to investigate identity theft cases that Thomas’s office brokered.

Second, because of tougher policies in the County Attorney’s Office, prosecutors are sending significantly more serious and repeat felons to prison. From 2004 to 2008, the number of criminals in Maricopa County sent to the Department of Corrections increased 29.3%.

Third, the joint crackdowns on illegal immigration with the Sheriff’s Office have led to an unprecedented collapse in the illegal immigration population. The Center for Immigration Studies recently released a report showing that since 2007, Arizona has seen a 30% drop in its illegal immigrant population. This finding is consistent with substantial anecdotal evidence of declining illegal-immigrant populations during that same time, many of which were reported by the local media (such as declining school enrollment numbers, the shuttering of businesses that largely catered to illegal immigrants, etc.). Nationally the amount of decrease in the illegal-immigrant population was 14% according to the CIS report.

County Attorney Andrew Thomas says the numbers speak for themselves: “Tough policies against crime and illegal immigration do work. The lesson is obvious: more time, less crime.”

Graph: More Time, Less Crime: Valley Crime Rates Decline as More Criminals Are Sent to Prison
The Phoenix Business Journal analyzed recent data on illegal immigration in the Valley and, on July 30, reported: “A marked drop in Phoenix-area crime coincides with the recession and a drop in the number of illegal immigrants in Arizona.”

On April 13, 2009, The Wall Street Journal reported that illegal immigration and Mexican drug cartels are a driving force behind auto theft nationally, and that border cities are the hardest hit. Yet the auto-theft rate in the Valley fell by 38% between 2006 and 2008, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

Since taking office, Thomas has implemented a series of policies to make certain that dangerous offenders serve serious prison time. These include:

Plead to the Lead – Implemented in 2005, this policy requires that adults charged with serious violent offenses such as first-degree murder, drive-by shooting, or sexual assault plead to the most serious crime they are charged with as part of any plea agreement or go to trial.

Dangerous Crimes Against Children Policy – Implemented in 2006, this policy requires adults who commit certain crimes against children receive substantial prison time. For cases in which the defendant faces the mandatory minimum sentence of 35 years, the plea offer must require at least 35 years in prison.

Repetitive and R.O.P. Offenders – This policy was intensified in 2007 to ensure that offenders with even one previous felony conviction go to prison, rather than receiving probation.
Gang Offenders – Plea agreements concerning gang crimes were toughened in 2008. For example, if a defendant is a documented gang member possessing a firearm during the commission of a crime as part of his participation in a criminal syndicate, prison time must be part of the plea agreement.

Illegal Immigration Crackdowns – Thomas and Sheriff Joe Arpaio have led the nation’s toughest crackdowns on illegal immigration. These have included enforcement of the state human-smuggling law against both smugglers and illegal immigrants and workplace raids and prosecutions related to the Legal Arizona Workers Act.

These policies have had a direct impact on the number of criminals Maricopa County has sent to the state prison system. In 2005, that figure was 10,733. The next year it climbed to 12,363. In 2008, that number rose further to 13, 386.


  1. The CIS numbers are likely not very accurate as their methodology has all sorts of questionable assumptions.

    However, any decrease in illegal immigration population there may be is due to one thing – the implosion of the economy and collapse of the construction sector. Arpaio/Thomas’ immigration sweeps have had negligible impact at best.

  2. thank you Joe and Andy. I appreciate your hard work — and it shows with these numbers…..

  3. Does anyone have the data these claims are based on. It strikes me as odd, to say the least, that crime rates have dropped by 18% in the county and at the same time the number of people going to prison went up 25%.

    This also hides the fact that in the places in the county which are solely patrolled by the Sheriff and prosecuted by Thomas felony crime went up 45% from 2004 – 2007. Sound like THomas/Arpaio are trying to take credit for the work of others.

  4. Sound more like todd wants to credit anyone but Joe and Andy. Getting the illegals off the street before they can commit another crime seems like a great strategy. Ounce of prevention v. a pound of cure.

  5. Billbo, Todd raises serious questions about the data, how about dealing with the facts and questions?

  6. My point is simple. The sheriff, County Attorney and the State Legislature is working the butts off to solve a problem the Federal government can’t be bothered with and their efforts are summarily dismissed. Most other states and even foreign countries are working for the same laws we have in Arizona. Illegal immigration is a world wide epidemic. Many of these people that come here to “clean our houses and maintain our lawn,” are also killing our police officers and giving drugs to our children. The voter of Arizona have spoken time after time on this issue. Todd provides no evidence for his statements and just knocks the methodology. These are clear attempts to minimize the impact law enforcement has on this problem.

    If they are here legally, they are welcome.

  7. Jeez, them folks is gone!!! says

    This is an example of taking credit for the eclipse.


    A couple of hundred thousand mexicans leave arizona because of economic conditions approaching the great depression and they think it was law enforcement?

    Crime fell because there is almost nothing left to steal.

    Look at all the empty storefronts and the empty houses and say Joe and Andy did it!!!

    Give it the Southpark test-
    wait, I hear the humming…

  8. Any exodous of illegals is because there is no work in the construction industry. This has nothing to do with Arpaio or his “enforcement” since Joe doesn’t generally arrest people who live in this county. 90%+ of his arrests were headed to a place other than Arizona.

  9. Forget these idiots! They will never admit Joe and Andy are doing the job we elected them to do and it’s working. Bottom line, fewer illegals and lower crime. We know how the open boarder people think. They benefit from the cheep labor at our expense. Thank God there aren’t enough of them to turn the whole state over to illegals.

  10. Rosco P Coltrain says

    The graph looks really nice. How does it compare to other counties in AZ? In CA or NM?

    If it resembles other large metropolitan areas, then we have to look at their policies to see if they are similar. I doubt other municipalities compare in the illegal immigration policy department, so if the crime rate decrease is similar, their illegal immigrant enforcement can’t be it.

    But maybe it is? I don’t know because I haven’t seen the data. There are so many variables at play here. Cause and effect are not apparent.

    But at least now with such a low crime rate maybe we can stop the militarization of our police force.

  11. Rosco,
    Agree on the end to militarization of the police force.

    Still not sure where Thomas is getting his numbers, however, one can see from the police in Tucson that from 2004-2008 there was a 22% drop in crime. I’m sure if he could he would try and find a way to take credit for that.

  12. kralmajales says

    National data show illegal immigration going down and it is due to the bad economy…pure and simple.

    Yes, crime was dropping also and you have to be careful about lumping all crime together. Vioent or property? Drug or gun? They are all different animals and all have different causes.

    If drug crime is going down, it is likely due to the drug courts and treatment programs instilled by the Maricopa courts, which are world leaders in innovation.

  13. kralmajales says

    Joe and Andy are harassing…the state is harassing…individual people who are here legally in many cases. It is why they are under investigation by the United State department of Justice.

    And…Joe and Andy are thugs…they are scum. Look at the campaign good ole Joe ran last time with an ad about his opponent allegedly masterbating.

  14. Joe is done. This is his last term. People don’t want mafia dons as their elected leaders. Joe thinks he’s untouchable and has lost his mind.

  15. Considering Mesa and Phoenix have been sanctuary cities the last few years, yet crime has decreased despite their efforts, would seem to indicate that the credit does lie with Arpaio and Thomas cracking down on illegal immigration and crime.

    Hey Roger – why don’t you post comments under your real name at High Ground? We’re kinda sick of you continuing to be “Roger” when you’ve already been outed on this blog as Paul Bentz from High Ground. Sorry your tax increase didn’t pass. No I’m not.

  16. Alicia Gegner says

    Todd wrote: ” Does anyone have the data these claims are based on. It strikes me as odd, to say the least, that crime rates have dropped by 18% in the county and at the same time the number of people going to prison went up 25%. ”

    That makes sense to me. If more people are imprisoned, then fewer of them are on the street to commit crime. Isn’t that the way it works?

    Next: We all agree that illegal immigrants are leaving our county. Honest statistics reveal that illegals commit crime in wild disproportion to their numbers.

    Therefore, if the sour economy is encouraging illegals to leave, and Andy and Joe are adding to the pressure to increase the number of those who are going away, that is all to the good.

    We water our gardens after a rain because the rain alone is not enough. Similarly, we catch and prosecute illegals who have not left because of the economy, because natural depletion of this unwanted resource is not enough.

    Illegals leave, and they take with them, the criminal activity they brought to our cities. Hooray!

    Would all you naysayers prefer that no one catch and prosecute criminals from a class of people that is notorious for crime? Are you folks saying that you like rape, murder, home invasions, grafitti, drunk driving and drug dealing, and the folks who commit those offenses as long as they are illegal? It seems so.

    We deserve a safe, crime free environment so we can concentrate on other challenges in our lives. Way to go, Andy and Joe!!

  17. GOP Rules, if Phoenix and Mesa are sanctuary cities (whatever that means) and there crime has gone down, how do you equate that with Thomas and Arpaio? If they are sanctuary cities that would mean illegals are welcome and therefore wouldn’t be leaving. Your logic somewhat escapes me.

    Deflect all you want by pretending I’m someone else, you’re still wrong.

  18. kralmajales says

    Weren’t they calling Roger some dude named Cochrane before? Good heavens. Who is he? Maybe his name is…well..Roger?

  19. That would just be craziness now wouldn’t it. I’m the flavor of the day. The Republican they love to blame when things don’t line up like they’d like. This would be the third time I’ve been accused of being someone else, it makes for a good distraction from what we’re really talking about.

  20. The common thread “Roger” works for High Ground. The error was thinking he was Chuck. Turns out it Paul, at least most of the time.

  21. Alicia
    I would have to see more data to buy your version of events

    Also you are incorrect that there are convincing stats that show illegal immigrants commit substantially more crimes.

  22. Whenever I give facts to a liberal, they always have to question my statistics and data. Brushing off the insult that somehow I had not taken time and energy to get the “real” facts, I just smile and ask “Which set of facts should I use”? Always a pregnant pause.

  23. Here is part of an email I received from Senator Pearce.

    YOU WANT AN EXAMPLE OF ANOTHER JURISDICTION AND THE RESULT OF ENFORCEMENT? Here is another jurisdiction that took a zero tolerance to those in this country illegally. Prince William County announced that violent crimes decreased by a whopping 22% in 2007, demonstrating once again the value of protecting the quality of life by having local law enforcement participate in efforts to reduce the number of illegal aliens unlawfully present in our communities. The previous year, more than half of all murders in the county were committed by illegal aliens. By encouraging illegal aliens to depart, and ensuring that those who do not and are arrested for state and local crimes are turned over to the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement for deportation, we’ve addressed to some degree an important public safety issue that few states and localities have the courage to even consider, much to the detriment of their own residents.

    I cannot believe what I am reading on those defending “illegal” aliens and ignoring the facts. Why are some ignoring the deaths, maimings, rapes and billions in cost? Is it Profits over Patriotism? Political power that comes to the left? Are the deaths, maimings, rapes, molestations of our children and billions in cost just collateral damage for the open border or cheap labor advocates?

    Just recently “Chief” Harris of Phoenix PD held a Press Conference about the reduction in crime and stated he did not know why it was down. It does not take a high IQ to know why. With employer sanctions, Sheriff enforcing the law, along with the economy 30% have left Arizona.

    I wonder why Phoenix is 2nd in the world in kidnappings only behind Mexico City. I can tell you that if you’re the victim of an illegal alien, statistics don’t mean much. If it is you or your the family member, like the family of Officer Erfle who was murdered when an illegal alien was released instead of being deported, or the family of Officer Figueroa who was killed by an illegal alien or Bob Miller who lost his son, and the list goes on.

    You want to hear from some real victims of Sanctuary Cities, the hurt, the pain, please go to this web site and watch.

    Citizens have a constitutional right to expect the protection of federal and state laws which prohibit unauthorized activities by non-citizens and are denied equal protection law enforcement, police departments or a magistrate fails to enforce those laws.

    You ought to be concerned about the cost to Arizona taxpayers in the cost to medicate, incarcerate and educate illegals ($1 billion annually in K-12 alone). You ought to be concerned about the deaths, maimings, rapes, kidnappings, home invasions, not to mention jobs taken from Americans and wages suppressed.

    The issue has been debated many times. What part of the Rule of Law, Citizens Constitutional rights, the Oath of Office, or the Constitution do you not agree with?

  24. And now you know the rest of the story….

  25. papatodd ,
    I have often found ‘facts’ to be not what they seem. As I have pointed out above, Tucson has seen a decrease in crime but PIma county has quite different policies than Maricopa. I also would question the interpretation of the ‘facts’ being presented here which is that Andrew Thomas has had anything to do with decreases in crime rates.

  26. Todd said:

    “Also you are incorrect that there are convincing stats that show illegal immigrants commit substantially more crimes.”

    Oh really? Today a paper company (for the second time) in So. Phoenix, the majority of the illegals charged with identity theft. Those people do not work UNLESS they are committing this despicable crime. Yet too many apologists (and friends of the Chamber of Commerce) who over look the “legality” of these illegal trespassers work status ignore that fact of crime.

  27. Royce,
    Thanks for providing an example I can point papatodd to.

    Sen. Pearce notes Prince William County violent crime fell 22% but fails to note that for the first time the county is tracking the immigration status of who they arrested and illegal immigrants made up 2% of those committing violent crimes. Yes, 2%.

    A report by the police chief does not include illegal immigration enforcement as a reason for the decline and in fact states it is likely due to decreased satisfaction with police services among Hispanics and African Americans which has resulted in a lower crime reporting rate.

    Some note familiar with Prince William County might be shocked to hear one year half of all murders were attributed to illegal immigrants. This is the result of 2 illegal immigrants being charged with 4 murders out of 9 in 2007.

    Also, Pearce continues to make the claim the Phoenix is the 2nd kidnapping capital in the world, but no one can seem to find what the actual source or data is for this claim.

    The cost to Arizona of educating children of illegal immigrants, and some of these children are in fact US citizens, is not $1 billion a year as Pearce claims, perhaps based on an inflated estimate by the racists group FAIR, but is instead $650 million according to the Pew Hispanic Center.

    According to Pew, the CIS claimed decrease is inflated and in fact illegal immigrants are not leaving the country in any unusually high numbers.

    Finally, returning to the claims of Thomas, a pet peeve of mine is the use of charts to display data in a misleading format. The chart provided above makes it appear that incarceration rates were increasing the same amount as crimes were decreasing. However, this is misleading because the left axis is displaying a range of 330-410 and the right is displaying 4500 – 6300. If these were displayed using the same range you would see a decline in crime and basically a flat line for incarcerations.

  28. kstewskis,
    I can assure you I am not a friend of the Chamber of Commerce. I will also state that I do not think there are no problems associated with illegal immigration. What I do find despicable is the attempt to blame problems on them using outrageous lies and statistics spun out of thin air.

  29. Todd:

    While you contstantly question the sources and analytic quality of your opponents’ figures, you avoid letting them know your own bona fides in these areas?

    What’s good for the goose applies to the gander!

    Lay your own cards on the table!

    A commonsense observation on the decrease in the illegal population would take in BOTH the economic downturn and the application of sanctions regarding illegal employment.

    The e-veriy technology has gone a long way to remove ignorance as a cause of employer culpability and let’s face it, the “Banana Republicans” over at the CofC and their “temporary” Dem allies looking for cheap votes and a California scenario, are both hot after Joe Arpaio, Andy Thomas and any other public offical agressively applying the law.

    There are pockets to be lined and political control objectives at stake! We can’t have these impediments to our destinies!

  30. Carlist,
    “A commonsense observation on the decrease in the illegal population would take in BOTH the economic downturn and the application of sanctions regarding illegal employment.”

    Thomas chalks up a supposed decrease in the population of illegal immigrants to actions of his and the Sheriff’s office. Of course employer sanctions have nothing to with either.

    Frankly, it is not even clear there has been a decrease in illegal immigrant population. CIS claims there has been, Pew Hispanic Research claims it is overstate, of course a nationwide decrease certainly could not be accounted for by Arizona’s laws.

  31. Todd:

    Employer sanctions certainly DO have an effect upon law enforcment activities of the Sheriff, County Attorney or any other law enforcement official who can muster up the courage to stand up to his or her City Councils, CofC Chapters, City Managers, Mayors and ethnic political pimping groups, coyote political donors and enforce immigration laws.

    Not only would illegal aliens be removed and encouraged to return in a legal manner, but we’d expose the deep seated corruption in both political parties and business elites at the same time!

    A double win for Arizona!

  32. It would be sensible for you to either link to your source for this post or cite it in some other way, e.g. by title.

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