Ryan Gabrielson, East Valley Tribune (Phoenix), January 16, 2009
The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office announced Thursday that homicide in its jurisdiction dropped by 28 percent in 2008. In 2007, the sheriff’s office documented 32 murders, but only 23 were recorded last year.
Sheriff Joe Arpaio, in a press release announcing the declining homicide rate, said the improvement was “partially” due to the office’s illegal-immigration operations.
The release did not articulate how illegal-immigration enforcement has benefited general public safety.
A Tribune investigation last year found that during 2006 and 2007–the first two years that the sheriff’s office conducted operations targeting illegal immigrants–emergency response times slowed dramatically and arrest rates plummeted. The sheriff’s office also reported steep increases in homicide, robbery and aggravated assault during that span.
In recent years, the newspaper found that the sheriff’s office has not always entered all cases into its electronic record-keeping system.
However, a sheriff’s office spokeswoman said that the homicide data released this week are accurate.
“The figures that we gave you are absolutely reliable,” said MCSO spokeswoman Lisa Allen.
The homicide data comes from figures provided to the FBI, which includes them in the agency’s annual volume, “Crime in the United States.”