Police forced to release criminals from other states

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PHOENIX -- Thousands of suspected criminals are living uninterrupted lives here in Arizona, and there is little to nothing law enforcement can do about it.

It is something criminals seem to be well aware of: if they commit a crime in one state, they simply leave for the next to start fresh. That is because more and more police departments across the country will not travel to other states to pick them up. The main reason is money.

Twenty-six-year-old James Noble is a Tennessee fugitive accused of kidnapping a 16-year-old girl. The Phoenix Police Warrant Interdiction Squad found him in Arizona, but let him go.

"(With) well over half of the total number of felony warrants, they can't do anything about arresting the suspects -- they have to let them go," said Sgt. Andy Hill of the Phoenix Police Department.

He said the squad has no choice, because many police departments across the nation are refusing to extradite suspects back to their state.

"Most of them are small with several dozen or less police officers, (and they) don't have the funds to pay to fly... two detectives out here, pick up a suspect and fly him back," Hill said. "It costs several thousand dollars to do that."

So while the Phoenix squad is tracking them down, police said they were being forced to release hundreds of people back into the community, some of whom are violent.

"There was someone wanted for a violent felony sexual assault against a child out east -- that person couldn't be arrested," Hill said.

It is a national problem, as illustrated by a case out of Washington.

Maurice Clemmons was accused of killing four police officers in Arkansas, but when officers arrested him in Washington for a smaller crime police in Arkansas declined to extradite him and Clemmons went free.

Phoenix police said they do not want to point fingers at other states because they cannot afford to extradite everyone, but they have met with Mayor Phil Gordon and are trying to find funding so when a state refuses to extradite the suspect. they can do it themselves.