New Data Shows Continued Increase in Phoenix’s Violent Crimes

New Data Shows an Increase in Phoenix’s Violent Crimes

The City of Phoenix has updated its quarterly crime statistics to reflect new data from the first quarter of 2021. While there has been a small decrease in the overall rate of crime in the city, the updated statistics for individual crime categories present a different perspective. The decrease in the overall crime rate is due to lower levels of property crime in Q1 2021. With everyone spending more time in their homes as a result of the COVID-19 lockdowns over the last year, the rate of property crime has drastically decreased across the nation. In its annual Uniform Crime Report (UCR) the FBI reported a 7.8% decrease in the property crime rate across the United States. 

“Among the violent crime statistics reported by the City of Phoenix, sharp increases can be seen in aggravated assault and murder.”

The decrease in the rate of property crime in Phoenix is notable, but there is serious cause for concern when examining the continued increase of violent crime in the city. Among the violent crime statistics reported by the City of Phoenix, sharp increases can be seen in aggravated assault and murder. The occurrence of aggravated assaults in Phoenix has nearly doubled since 2016, with more than 3,500 incidents in the first 2 quarters of 2021 alone. Generating even more concern is the rapidly increasing murder rate in the city. Since 2019, the occurrence of criminal homicide in Phoenix has increased more than 44%.

The increase of violent crimes in Phoenix is representative of a larger national trend. Across the country, crime rates are surging, with particularly acute increases in violent crimes. The FBI’s UCR report found that the overall rate of violent crime in the United States has increased by nearly 3% in the last year. Within this category, there has been a nearly 15% increase in the murder rate and a roughly 5% increase in aggravated assaults. In other major metropolises around the country like New York and Chicago, murder rates have been increasing at a similar rate to those in Phoenix. Chicago has seen an 18% increase in murders while New York has experienced a 13% increase during the same period.

The surge in violent crime in Phoenix and across the country can be attributed to the effects of COVID-19 lockdowns. With more people out of school, work, and lacking positive and productive outlets for their time, violence continues to take hold.

  1. https://www.fbi.gov/news/pressrel/press-releases/overview-of-preliminary-uniform-crime-report-january-june-2020

2. https://www.fbi.gov/news/pressrel/press-releases/overview-of-preliminary-uniform-crime-report-january-june-2020

3. https://www.bbc.com/news/57581270

Phoenix is on the brink of a public safety crisis

By Chris Rutherford

Phoenix is on the brink of a public safety crisis. As one of the fastest-growing cities in America, Phoenix faces the unique challenge of expanding its core infrastructure to match the rapidly expanding population. One of the key areas our city has struggled to keep pace in is the staffing of law enforcement officers. While the city’s population has exploded over the last decade, the growth of the police force has remained stagnant, placing the city well behind law enforcement staffing recommendations.

 

Staffing guidelines suggest there should be a ratio of three police officers for every 1,000 citizens. The city of Phoenix currently has an active force of roughly 3,000 sworn police officers. With a population of 1,733,630, our city has an officer to citizen ratio of 1.7 officers per 1,000 citizens, down from 2.4 in 2010. As the ratio between officers and citizens continues to decline, crime is on the rise in Phoenix. Between 2019 and 2020, Phoenix saw a 175% increase in domestic violence murder which trended with the rest of the violent crime increases throughout the city. These staggering numbers raise alarms when you consider the reality that our police are tasked with protecting us from these hastily increasing threats while operating at just half of their staffing capacity. Now more than ever, it is critical that we ensure Phoenix’s police force is adequately staffed and provided with the necessary resources to protect our community from the increasing occurrences of crime.

These numbers become even more concerning when comparing Phoenix’s police force to its total population and the population of other comparably sized cities. One startling example is the city of Philadelphia. Philadelphia’s population is just 9% smaller than that of Phoenix, but their police force is more than 225% larger.

Adding to the cause for concern is the fact that our police force is facing a further staffing crisis in the years to come. 31% of the officers we currently have in Phoenix will be eligible for retirement from the force within the next year1. This number will balloon to 46% over the next five years, leaving our city more vulnerable than ever while the population continues to increase. As the population continues to grow and the size of the police force continues to shrink, our overworked police officers will be forced to take on even more duties to account for the staffing shortages. 

Phoenicians are taking note of these issues and their effect on the community. Our citizens have a largely positive relationship with their law enforcement officers. Over 60% of Phoenix residents that have interacted with the police have had a positive experience and 73% believe that Phoenix police do a better job protecting us than other major cities. Factoring in the stressful circumstances our officers find themselves in due to staffing shortages, Phoenix PD has developed a strong reputation among the community. 

While their overall sentiment is positive, many citizens are concerned about the continued strength of the police force. 63% of people in Phoenix believe that there should be more police officers to reflect the rapidly expanding population of the city. On top of this, five out of every six citizens believe that our city would be better protected with more police officers. 

As Phoenix continues to expand, the issue of crime will only become more apparent and the consequences more dire. Without a plan to increase the strength of our police force and replace officers who will be retiring over the coming years, we could find ourselves in the midst of a public safety crisis. It’s time for us to bring together our elected officials, law enforcement representatives, stakeholder groups, and the community to develop long-term solutions to protect our city and support our police officers. 

About the Author: Chris Rutherford is a Phoenician and son of fallen Phoenix Police Officer Paul Rutherford.

  1. City of Phoenix. Quarterly Budget Update and Performance Statistics. 3/31/2021

Sal DiCiccio: BLM Mural Backpedaling

Phoenix City Councilman released the following statement Thursday evening regarding a response by City Manager Ed Zuercher to BLM activists:

This is Government Speak for: “Public would have handed us our ass if we allowed the BLM mural to happen.”

Never underestimate political self-preservation.

We Win Again!!!

Sal DiCiccio
City of Phoenix
Councilman, District 6

Ducey Wants to Flatten the Curve, Not Shutdown the Great Outdoors

By Calamity June

On Monday, March 30th, Governor Doug Ducey issued an Executive Order suggesting Arizonans “stay home, stay healthy and stay connected.”  Governor Ducey went on to state Arizonans should “limit their time away from home and if they do go out, to ensure social distancing.”  Finally, Arizonans are “staying home because it’s the right thing to do.”  Governor Ducey remarked, “when you use words like shelter in place, that’s what happens during a nuclear attack.”

This means our state’s hiking trails and parks can remain open for people to enjoy and get some exercise as long as we all practice physical distancing.  

During his news conference, Ducey listed off “essential services,” and stressed how the grocery store’s shelves would remain stocked and drug stores would remain open.  Restaurants would still be open for takeout and delivery.  Furthermore, he encouraged people to only purchase a week’s worth of groceries. As President Donald Trump and others have noted, the supply chain is operable and there is no reason to hoard anything.  Don’t be greedy. 

This means our state’s hiking trails and parks can remain open for people to enjoy and get some exercise as long as we all practice physical distancing.  

US Senator Kyrsten Sinema had a phone call earlier in the day on Monday 30th with a lot of the liberal mayors in Arizona pushing them to defy Governor Ducey and issue their own “shelter in place” order. After the mayors’ call, the mayor of Phoenix issued her own directive to close all of Phoenix’s hiking trails.  

Fortunately, Phoenix Councilman Sal DiCiccio embodies the duty to present the calm during COVID-19.  God Bless Councilman DiCiccio for pushing back against Mayor Gallego every time she has pushed to shut down anything in Phoenix.  

Listen to Councilman DiCiccio on Seth Leibsohn’s March 31st radio show.  As you will hear, Councilman DiCiccio remarked how the city isn’t sanitizing the light rail or the buses. Why aren’t they closing public transportation? Why does the mayor want to close our parks and hiking trails?  It doesn’t add up.

On April 1st, City Hall is scheduled to vote on closing the city’s parks, including its hiking trails.  Also, according to the City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation’s website, the mayor has decided unilaterally to temporarily close the city’s playgrounds, fitness equipment, basketball and volleyball courts, and sports complexes in its public parks effective Tuesday, March 31st at 5pm until further notice.

Being on a hiking trail in the Phoenix sun is one of the best ways to keep your body healthy.  Practice safe social distancing. Being outdoors is good for one’s health and wellness. It even states as much on Phoenix’s Parks and Recreation Department’s website. Be sure to call City Hall and let them know you want to keep our parks and hiking trails open during COVID-19.

Phoenix taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for the Suns’ arena

By Boaz Witbeck 

The Phoenix City Council is considering whether to spend $150 million in taxpayer money on a plan to renovate the Phoenix Suns’ Talking Stick Resort arena.

At a recent public meeting, supporters of the plan argued that it’s worth $150 million to keep the team downtown.

Wanting to keep our beloved Suns in Phoenix is understandable, especially with the owner at one point threatening to move the team out of the city. But a taxpayer handout isn’t the way to do it. We would all do well to listen to Phoenix resident Greta Rogers, who told the City Council last December, “We [Phoenix residents] are not in the business of paying taxes to support private enterprise.”

Ms. Rogers is right. Government should not be picking and choosing winners in the private sector. In her words, “They can support themselves or fail on their own lack of diligence.” In that spirit, we urge the City Council to reject the plan when they vote Jan. 23.

Since 2006, politicians across North America have spent $11 billion in taxpayer funds on 54 ballparks, arenas, and stadiums.

Taxpayers forked over $430 million for the Orlando Magic’s Amway Center. They paid $305 million for the Brooklyn Nets’ Barclays Center. And they’re on the hook for $250 million for the Milwaukee Bucks’ new arena. The list goes on.

Most of this spending – $9.3 billion worth – occurred without any taxpayer approval.  The people footing the bill had the opportunity to vote on funding for just 15 facilities. Only eight won voter approval.

Politicians like to claim that using taxpayer funds to build or renovate arenas will stimulate the local economy. The facts, however, say otherwise. 

One study unambiguously concluded, “there is no statistically significant positive correlation between sports facility construction and economic development.”

On the contrary, economics professors from the College of Holy Cross note that teams and stadiums propped up by taxpayer funding can actually choke off local economic activity. People spending money to go to games might have less money to spend at the local theater or might be deterred to go to eat out because of all the traffic from a sporting event.

Funding for stadiums can also crowd out expenditures for important public services and bust municipal budgets. Sometimes that money is wasted on arenas that sit empty. Houston’s Astrodome, which was built with $31 million in public funds and left the county millions of dollars in debt after being condemned for code violations. Despite all of this, last year Harris County approved another $105 million in taxpayer funds for renovations. The Dome at America’s Center in St. Louis sits empty, leaving the taxpayers of Missouri paying $144 million in debt and upkeep costs until 2021 – in part because Los Angeles is subsidizing a new stadium for the NFL’s Rams, the team that left St. Louis.

In an ideal world, owners wouldn’t threaten to leave cities unless they get a taxpayer handout and politicians wouldn’t cave to their demands. Local officials need to always remember they’re supposed to look out for our interests.

Spending our hard-earned money on bad investments is not in our interest.

We Americans love our sports teams. But we shouldn’t allow politicians to use those attachments to benefit the well-connected at our expense.    

Boaz Witbeck is deputy state director of Americans for Prosperity-Arizona

Statement by Phoenix Councilman Sal DiCiccio on Sale of Phoenix Sheraton

Phoenix is closing on the downtown Sheraton sale, remember that the real loss to taxpayers is $200 Million.

This is the final, sad chapter in an orgy of corporate welfare and insider dealing that has cost the citizens of Phoenix far more than anyone at City Hall will admit.

Inept staff who insisted on making this deal are saying the loss is $36 Million. Even using their numbers, anyone in the private sector who did a deal like this would get fired in a heartbeat for such a loss. Yet the politicians and city staff do it, and our public media watchdogs never hold them accountable.

How many cops could $200 million have added to our force?

How many miles of paving?

How many units of low-income housing?

Those are real things our citizens will never get because of this deal.

Follow the story on Facebook.

Michael Lafferty Political Contributions Question Candidacy

 

Michael Lafferty

Michael Lafferty

Friday, a new candidate announced his entry into the Phoenix mayoral race drawing questions about his political motivations among the politically astute.

Michael Lafferty, a Phoenix businessman and developer, entered the race asserting his affiliation as an independent candidate although he is currently registered as a Republican according to Maricopa County voter records.

The Arizona Republic noted that Lafferty’s company owns a 1,500 unit apartment complex near 12th Street and the light rail station. The Republic also stated that Lafferty has been involved in Phoenix business for 34 years.

In his statement, Lafferty said, “I don’t believe that the mayor’s office is a Democratic or Republican office.”

Sonoran Alliance researched his political contributions specifically related to Phoenix candidates and what we found draws into question his motive for seeking the top seat at the City of Phoenix.

As a Republican, Lafferty gave to Democrat candidates and to 2015’s Proposition 104 – a massive tax hike of $31.5 Billion on Phoenix voters over the next 27 years. According to the City of Phoenix Clerk’s office Lafferty gave the following donations:

  • $1,000 on June 30, 2017 to Kate Gallego in her city council race
  • $2,000 on June 23, 2015 to MovePHX in Support of Prop 104
  • $700 on May 8, 2014 to Greg Stanton in his mayoral race
  • $250 on March 9, 2014 to kate Gallego in her city council race
  • $500 on November 12, 2013 to Greg Stanton in his mayoral race
  • $225 on September 3, 2013 to Kate Gallego in her city council race
  • $450 on August 7, 2013 to Warren Stewart in his city council race

Michael Lafferty Phoenix Donations

At no time over the last few years has Lafferty contributed to the campaigns of Republicans Sal DiCiccio, Jim Waring, Bill Gates (when he was on council) or Thelda Williams.

This blog has to ask the question why would a candidate who acknowledges his political registration as Republican and transitioning to Independent, jump into the mayoral race when he has a history of supporting Phoenix Democrats? Why not run as a Democrat? And, as a Republican, why didn’t Lafferty support any of the Republican candidates running for city council?

Political speculators are already arguing that Lafferty is strategically running to eliminate the only Republican, Moses Sanchez, from winning the seat or a slot in a primary runoff contest. In our opinion, Michael Lafferty should re-register as a Democrat.

We’d like to hear your take on this important race for Phoenix Mayor.

Political Ad: Moses Sanchez for Phoenix Mayor Changing The Status Quo

Moses Sanchez

If you haven’t been paying attention to Phoenix politics, you should know there’s a conservative Republican running for the office of Mayor of the 5th largest US city.

Moses Sanchez launched his campaign for Mayor of Phoenix on January 16th with the theme of changing the status quo by challenging the two incumbent Democrats seeking the seat when Greg Stanton resigns to run for Congress.

An Ahwatukee resident, Sanchez migrated to the US with his family from the Republic of Panama when he was a child. He is an active reservist with the United States Navy having served for 21 years including a tour of Afghanistan.

Sanchez possesses both a B.S. in Business Management and an MBA. He is Director of Operations for Nonnah’s Marketing an Arizona-based digital marketing company that assists local businesses in their growth strategy through targeted digital media campaigns.

Previously, he was elected and served on the Tempe Union High School Governing Board. Over the last ten years, he has also taught economics in the Maricopa County Community College District at South Mountain Community College.

Moses and his wife, Maria Manriquez M.D., have three adult children and three grandchildren. All three children graduated from Desert Vista High School and continued their education at Arizona State University.

On January 29th, the Sanchez campaign released its first political ad entitled, “Changing The Status Quo.” The ad is available here.

Follow Moses Sanchez on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for campaign news and events.

 

Sal DiCiccio: $16 Million Wasted In Just One Day By City Of Phoenix

Sal DiCiccio

Last week, I wrote about the structural deficit our city is facing. Our deficit problems will continue until we make public safety our priority and cut spending in non-essential areas. On Tuesday, city staff gave a presentation regarding the budget deficit forecast. The forecast, which did not come as a surprise to me, shows our deficit continuing to grow out of control, even while we collect increased revenue.

The day after the budget deficit presentation, I voted NO on the following expenses, all of which the Phoenix City Council ultimately approved:

  • $3,668,564 to Downtown Phoenix Inc – a group that already taxes private businesses against their will to spend money on the Downtown area
  • $16,000 to National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials – annual membership fee
  • $60,000 to Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) Local 777 to buy promotional and training material for themselves
  • $108,000 to Ballard Spahr LLP- lobbyists (this is on top of the hundreds of thousands of dollars they already spent on lobbyists at the last council meeting)
  • $12,170,000 to change just 4 bus routes
  • $750,000 to join the ASU Global Institute of Sustainability

TOTAL: $16,772,564

Just during a single city council meeting, we could have cut $16 million of unnecessary spending. But instead, we continued to add to the structural deficit problems we face.

As long as we continue to spend in this manner, we will continue to see your taxpayer monies wasted. And city officials will continue to have their hand out, telling you they need to increase your taxes because they are short on revenues. They’re not. They just have a spending problem.

You have my commitment to continue to protect you, your family and your hard earned tax dollars.

My best to you,

Sal DiCiccio
Phoenix City Council
District 6

Gilbert and Chandler Place Well In Annual US City Fiscal Health Rankings

Town of GilbertCongratulations to the Town of Gilbert and City of Chandler for placing high in the annual US City Fiscal Health Index.

The index, prepared by The Fiscal Times, looks at five factors to derive the rankings including: ratio of city general fund balance to expenditures, ratio of long term obligations to total government-wide revenues, ratio of actuarially determined pension contributions to total government-wide revenues, change in local unemployment rate and changes in property values. Data is reported by the cities themselves from 2015. Only cities with populations of 200,000 were evaluated. (Tempe, Peoria, Surprise, Yuma, Avondale and Flagstaff have populations less than 200,000.)

City of ChandlerThe Town of Gilbert placed 17th while the City of Chandler placed 20th.

Other Arizona cities placed lower on the list:

Phoenix – 43
Glendale – 77
Tucson – 81
Scottsdale – 84
Mesa – 85

At the bottom of the list were Chicago and New York City.

To view the full index, click here.