40,000 unserved felony warrants in Maricopa County

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by Alicia E. Barrn / azfamily.com

azfamily.com

Posted on August 15, 2009 at 2:09 PM

Updated Friday, Aug 21 at 3:38 PM

Who is responsible for unserved warrants?
azfamily.com

PHOENIX - There are nearly 40,000 unserved felony warrants in Maricopa County.

The state stays it is a public safety concern and no one is taking responsibility. Maricopa County has 60% of the population but 75% of the outstanding felony warrants and it is a problem senators aim to get under control.

Phoenix Dep. Chief Paul Chagolla tells 3TV, "In the last two years we've served over 33,000 warrants."

Nevertheless, there are still 39,000 unserved warrants in Maricopa County. Arizona Senator Russell Pearce says, "I think there is more we can do a lot more we can do."

But what to do and who should do it is what the senate judiciary committee is trying to figure out.

In Pima County it is the sheriff who tracks down those felony warrants. Some lawmakers are concerned that the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office is more focused on illegal immigration and television time sighting Sheriff Joe Arpaio's show, "Smile your under arrest!" Sen. Ken Cheuvront says, "My concern is we're using vital resources from the sheriff's office to go on a show."

The Mesa Police Association says one third of all their officer-involved shootings involve a suspect with an outstanding warrant in Maricopa County. Sgt. Fabian Cota, with the Mesa Police Association, says, "They present a danger to the community and they present a danger to my officers who everyday have to deal with them."

Mesa officials believe the 39,000 unserved felony warrants are the sheriff's responsibility. Cota adds, "They house the warrants, they do the extraditions, they have all the information. It doesn't require any more cost to taxpayers."

But MCSO says they will not provide any manpower to the problem unless the state provides the funding. Chagolla says, "The responsibility lies with all law enforcement." Chagolla also says the motivation of this hearing is clear. "This is a result of certain individuals within the community who do not want the sheriffMaricopa County sheriff to enforce illegal immigration laws."

Regardless of why these hearings are happening the committee plans to consult with law enforcement leaders and ultimately put together a legislative package that would make things clear and hold agencies responsible for those outstanding warrants.

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