In most places, a significantly lower number of felony arrests would result in smiles and satisfaction. After all, doesn’t that mean that serious crime in the city is down? But in Phoenix, no matter what the statistics say, law enforcement has a response that always calls for more cops, more arrests, more criminal laws, and harsher penalties. Here are the facts behind the latest attempt to explain away the drop in arrests.
Felony arrests in Phoenix from October 2015 through February 2016 are down over the same period a year earlier. It amounts to a reduction of almost 1,600 felony arrests. At the same time, misdemeanor, civil and traffic charges are also down. The “culprit”, according to the PD, is a new record management system they say is so complicated that officers may be avoiding arresting folks so they don’t have to deal with it. Other law and order types deny the management system is to blame; they claim the decrease in arrests shows the need for more police officers. Either way, the groups advocating these positions are looking for someone or something to blame for the decrease. We’re not so sure.
The decline appears to be the result of a decrease in serious crime
Numbers are interesting. Mark Twain said that there are “lies, damned lies, and statistics.” The implication is that statistics can often be used to support many different and sometimes contradictory viewpoints. In the case of the Phoenix PD, what they would have us believe is that the cause of an apparent decline in felony arrests is something – anything – other than a decrease in felonies. In this case, they blame either the new reporting system and/or not enough cops on the street. But this “analysis” ignores an important fact: crime has been on the decline in Phoenix and in most other major areas in the country for years.
According to the FBI, violent crime across the county has been in a fairly steady decline for decades, including instances of murder, non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, and aggravated assault. By the end of 2013, violent crime had reached the lowest level in more than 20 years. All of which suggests that the reason for the lower number of arrests is Phoenix may not be lazy and/or confused police officers who would rather see criminals go unpunished than deal with the city’s record management system; it may not be an insufficient number of cops; shockingly enough, it may be the result of a reduction in crime!
Law Offices of David A. Black
40 North Central Avenue #1850
Phoenix, AZ 85004