Phoenix police audit finds hundreds of crimes against children were mishandled

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- Disturbing new details about the Phoenix Police Department’s handling of hundreds of cases, most of them crimes against children, emerged Wednesday. This all started with an employee who repeatedly raised concerns about a detective’s poor handling of crimes against children.

The report by the city’s audit department found poor case management and improperly conducted interviews are too common within the Family Investigations Bureau.

Out of the 969 cases re-examined, the case- management policies were not properly followed in 400, 279 didn’t receive follow-up interviews with victims, suspects or witnesses, and 98 cases were not handled adequately in terms of evidence.

Since the audit. the Phoenix Police Department has added 30 new staff members to the Family Investigations Unit and implemented new systems and policies to try to prevent this in the future.

According to police, hundreds of cases have been re-examined with 16 cases being sent to the Maricopa County Attorney Office.  Although half were declined, two arrests have been made.

Last year a Tempe man was arrested on suspicion of sexual assault of a teenage female relative and last week a 45-year-old man was arrested for a string of alleged assaults in the late 1990s.

“In Phoenix, we are blessed to have one of the best police departments in the country and some of the most dedicated and committed officers, but in this case, some of our officers fell short," said Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton in a prepared release Wednesday afternoon. "The job wasn’t done right, and that is unacceptable. As Mayor, I hold our police department to the highest standard and our residents should too. As a& father of two young children, I know protecting our children in Phoenix must be our police department’s top priority.

“Since this problem has come to light, the department has taken steps  to improve the situation. As Phoenix continues the hiring process of a new police chief, child crimes must be his top priority and I will work closely with the new chief to make sure that happens.”

Acting Phoenix Police Chief Joe Yahner maintains the cases that have fallen through the cracks remain a top priority within the department.

The detective who originally came into question, Alan MacIver, retired last summer.