Crime & Public Safety

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Tracking the Tricked: Police Join the Fight Against Human Trafficking

Posted By on Thu, Feb 23, 2017 at 9:55 AM

  • Mike Christy for Arizona Daily Star 2014

The Southern Arizona Anti-Trafficking Unified Response Network task force, known as SAATURN, received a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to research, track and combat human trafficking in Tucson for three years. The grant and task force began in October 2015.

Tucson Police Department is one of three grantees for this task force, joining CODAC Health, Recovery and Wellness and the University of Arizona’s Southwest Institute for Research on Women.

Detective Jennifer Crawford has been investigating violent crime for nearly 17 years, and currently works in TPD's Street Crime Interdiction Unit—the unit responsible for studying human trafficking in Tucson.

Crawford said events like the Gem Show or large sporting events can draw more trafficking activity because the exploitative industry tends to "follow the money" and crowded events can attract an influx of trafficking of girls from other cities.

She said one of the main ways police keep tabs on trafficking is through online sites such as Backpage, where third-party contributors, such as escorts, can sell "dates."

The money from the grant allocated for TPD is spent on operational equipment as well as training and outreach programs, according to Crawford. The Street Crime Interdiction Unit is comprised of four detectives and two federal agents, and grant money will also be spent on funding the team's investigative hours should they have to work overtime.

"They help support us and we're able to do a lot more than we used to and also work at a federal level if we need to," Crawford said.

Crawford said trafficking tends to be a harder crime to prosecute than others. Reasons being victims can be hesitant to disclose information and it can be difficult to keep victims on track during an unfortunately tedious court process.

"I'd say we've definitely made a lot of strides and we've moved forward a lot in the last year since we've gotten our task force up and running and with our support service people as well," Crawford said.

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Thursday, February 16, 2017

Death in the Arizona Borderlands

Posted By on Thu, Feb 16, 2017 at 5:06 PM

Since 2001, thousands of migrant have died in the desert of the U.S.-Mexico border. Activists, professionals and migrants talk about the continuing humanitarian crisis in the Arizona borderlands.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Carmona Takes The Gloves Off

Posted By on Wed, Oct 12, 2016 at 12:45 PM

Dr. Richard Carmona speaking on behalf of Pima County Sheriffs Deputies - JONATHAN HOFFMAN
  • Jonathan Hoffman
  • Dr. Richard Carmona speaking on behalf of Pima County Sheriffs Deputies

On Thursday, Oct. 6, Dr. Richard Carmona held a press conference to act as a spokesman for Pima County Sheriff's Deputies who have allegedly been blacklisted, threatened, harassed, had their wives harassed and who have been improperly reassigned and demoted by Sheriff Chris Nanos and his cronies. As Carmona put it, the Pima County Sheriffs Department is taking actions that are "immoral, unethical, and possibly criminal;" or more generally speaking," a reign of terror," a phrase he repeated at least twice.

Carmona began his press conference in the early afternoon in a small conference room at the Viscount Suite Hotel. standing behind him were some of the people for whom he was speaking—fifteen members of Pima County Deputy Sheriffs Association. They wore tee shirts with a small PCDSA logo. A representative of the Tucson Police Officers Association, Officer McGinnis, was present and at one point declared the union's solidarity with PCDSA. The corrections officers representative was not present, but they too stood in solidarity with the deputies. The audience filled the room, there were about as many people standing as seated. Television media was present.

Carmona identified Nanos, Chief Deputy Chris Radtke and Chief of Staff Bradley Gagnepain, as those whom he believed to be responsible for the "reign of terror." Nanos was originally appointed by the Pima County Board of Supervisors to the post of Sheriff after Clarence Dupnik resigned, he is now running for election to that post. Bradley Gagnepain had retired from the Sheriffs Department, but was brought back by Dupnik to be a "special advisor;" later, Nanos appointed him to fill a position newly created by Nanos called "Chief of Staff." Gagnepain died of a gunshot wound in June of this year, around the time he was named in an FBI corruption investigation of the Pima County Sheriffs Department.

Specifically, the FBI was looking at possible misuse of funds acquired through the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act. The funds come from money and property seized under the act and may be spent by law enforcement but only on a narrow list of areas. Illegal spending of RICO money is a felony. On Oct. 10, Chris Radtke was indicted by the FBI for just that. Radtke immediately resigned his post. Sheriff Nanos declined to comment on the matter.

Speaking of the death of Gagnepain, Carmona reported that he received phone calls from deputies at the scene who told him that Nanos and Radtke showed up, took command of the crime scene, and "kept them from doing their job;" specifically, they were not allowed to establish a chain of custody regarding evidence or interview witnesses.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Looks Like Brother Dean Got Arrested For Kicking A Student In The Chest

Posted By on Tue, Sep 20, 2016 at 3:52 PM

Dean Saxton, whom you might know as "Brother Dean" or the "You Deserve Rape" guy, appears to have finally crossed a legal line and assaulted a student.

UAPD confirms that Saxton was arrested and given a one-year exclusionary order banning him from campus until next Fall after students reported seeing him kick a woman in the chest.

The reaction from UA students has been undeniably celebratory: 

Check in on student media websites The Tab and The Daily Wildcat for more details and reactions from campus. 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Two Tucson Women Hold Rally for Law Enforcement

Posted By on Thu, Jul 14, 2016 at 3:30 PM

Tucsonans rally at Ronstadt Center in support of law enforcement
  • Tucsonans rally at Ronstadt Center in support of law enforcement

Adriana Chairez and Margo Susco, two local business women, held a nine-hour rally to support law enforcement near downtown's Ronstadt Center on Wednesday, July 13.

Concerned with what they viewed as the general lack of support for police both at the national and local levels after the murder of five police officers in Dallas, the women were convinced that now is the time to show appreciation for the work that the police perform on behalf of their communities.

Susco said that though the local officials profess support for Tucson Police Department, the actions of those officials do not reflect that rhetoric. Both Susco and Chairez share the opinion that TPD police officers have been asked to do more and more, extending duties beyond those of  traditional law enforcement—providing water 
Adrianna Chairez (left) and Margo Susco (right) wave signs in support of law enforcement at downtown rally
  • Adrianna Chairez (left) and Margo Susco (right) wave signs in support of law enforcement at downtown rally
to homeless people, for example—without a concomitant increase in resources.

Some ongoing problems include police compensation and equipment.

A pattern has developed in which TPD officers are recruited, sent through the academy, then after a couple of years are "poached" by neighboring jurisdictions, which offer higher wages and benefits. Tucson makes the investment, neighboring jurisdictions reap the majority of the benefits. This would appear to cost the City of Tucson more than would a substantial increase in wages.

New TPD officers receive body armor (vests) upon completion of their academy training, but they degrade over time and need to be replaced after five years. TPD does not supply replacement the body armor. The officers must pay for them out of their $640 annual equipment allowance, which is used for the purchase of gear including vests, service weapons, restraints, etc. With quality armor often costing in excess of $1,000, officers are faced with yet more tough choices. The Tucson Police Foundation does help with replacing expired armor.

There was a brief counter to the women's message which consisted of a few young men chanting "Fuck the police!" from across the street, but after a little conversation and more than a little water provided by the women, the young men had a change of heart and abandoned their efforts. 

Jonathan Hoffman is the Weekly's resident libertarian columnist. 

Signs posted at downtown rally in support of law enforcement
  • Signs posted at downtown rally in support of law enforcement

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Friday, July 8, 2016

Tucson, I Am You. You Are Me. What Are WE Going To Do?

Posted By on Fri, Jul 8, 2016 at 6:01 AM

Hey Tucson, hey. Adiba here, and I'm coming to you with a heavy, 50lb heart. 

Alton Sterling. Philando Castile. 

As someone on Twitter said, "another day, another hashtag," and I can't wrap my mind around this. For some reason these two deaths have hit me harder and deeper than any of the countless deaths of Black men and women that have come before them. I have watched the video of every death prior to these. I've listened to countless audio tapes. I've listened to Trayvon Martin beg for someone, ANYONE to help; his screams heard through closed doors, brick frame homes and transmitted clearly over a telephone line into a 911 operator's ear. I've watched Walter Scott get shot in the back by a police officer as he ran for his life. I've witnessed via the terrors of YouTube as Laquan MacDonald had 17 bullets pumped into his body—execution by legal firing squad. So, watching my brothers die at the hands of corrupt police officers is not new to me—it has come to be part of the narrative of 2013 - ???.

But what was it about these two men? Is it because this time I witnessed the "what happened before" that people are always talking about? Is it because I saw Alton Sterling standing there, not resisting arrest, before being tackled to the ground like a linebacker? It because I watched the police officer put the gun to his chest more than once, watched him pull the trigger, and then watched life leave this man's body? Is it because Philando Castile's girlfriend invited me into her loved ones last moments on this earth, and I watched yet another soul float away? Is it because his 4-year-old daughter was still strapped into her carseat when her daddy was gunned down before her eyes? Or is it because I then listened to this same 4-year-old girl console her mother in the back of a police car, as she mourned the death of her loved one. This baby didn't even get to mourn. She was placed in the role of protector. At 4-years-old she unearthed the role of "saving grace." This shouldn't happen. This should never happen. It hasn't happened here. 

But it can. 

Tucson, I am a Black woman. I live here. I walk amongst you every day. It can happen to me. I have a 20-year-old brother who lives here. I have three nephews that live here, ages five, one and two. My three sisters live here. My mother lives here. 

We all live here. We don't look like the majority of you—only about 5 percent of Tucson is Black. But we are here—which means that like you, WE ARE TUCSON. Collectively. What you do to the least of us, you do to all of us. So I must ask, what are we doing collectively to make sure that my brother, YOUR brother, is not the next Philando Castile? What are we going to do collectively to make sure that my nephews, YOUR nephews, do not become the next Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, and Alton Sterling? What are we going to do COLLECTIVELY to make sure that I, the woman writing this article, am not the next Sandra Bland?

Because if I am the next Sandra Bland, then so are you.  
  • Tucson Police Chief Magnus via Daily Kos
If you would like to be part of the solution, please join the local chapter of Black Lives Matter on Saturday, July 9 at Armory Park. There will be a vigil and healing circle taking place, starting at 6 p.m. For more information please click here.

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Thursday, June 30, 2016

Not Your Mama's Safety Pin: How a Household Item Can Change a Life

Posted By on Thu, Jun 30, 2016 at 10:30 AM

Hey hey, Tucson! I am thrilled to be writing to you about all the delicious shenanigans, and points of ponderance Tucson (and the world) has to offer! I grew up reading the Weekly, and my plan for my inaugural post was to take you on a trip down memory lane; share a bit of MY Tucson with you. But then I read this Huffington Post article about a local family that is being terrorized by some racist bigots.

Um, that's not MY Tucson.

According to the article, the family of Syrian refugees recently came home to find a note taped to their front door with phrases like "Go away killers!," "America hates terrorists like you!" and "You are Muslim and not welcome!" among other hateful things.

What? Did we enter some weird Twilight Zone vortex of idiocy? Has the heat finally fried our brains to the point of bumbling lunacy? I simply cannot wrap my brain around this, and I certainly cannot accept it. This family fled a country where they lived in fear every day because of terrorists and came to America—the land of the free (for some, but that's another post altogether).The family came here under the promise of relief from fear, bigotry, and certain death. Then they came all the way to Tucson—TUCSON; the liberal stepsister to the uber conservatives 2 hours north. Tucson—artsy-fartsy, retired hippy, live and let live, WE BUY SONORAN DOGS FROM DIRT FIELDS ON CORNERS AND TAMALES FROM WOMEN WE KNOW ARE HERE ILLEGALLY BUT DAMN, WE CAN'T GO WITHOUT OUR TAMALES—Tucson, and then we have the nerve, the gall, nay, the absolute audacity to do this?

No. This is not MY Tucson. If you're reading this right now, I'm willing to bet it's not YOUR Tucson either. In Tucson, we don't stand for bigotry. We don't stand for hate. And we sure as hell don't stand for cowardly fear tactics played out against our most vulnerable citizens. Hell-to-the-hot-ass-desert-NO.

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Friday, June 3, 2016

Something Needs to be Done About Gun Violence

Posted By on Fri, Jun 3, 2016 at 3:00 PM

Everyone seems to agree that something should be done about gun violence. - TUCSON WEEKLY ARCHIVE
  • Tucson Weekly Archive
  • Everyone seems to agree that something should be done about gun violence.

This past Wednesday afternoon I received frantic calls and texts from my mother and sister, asking me if my childhood friend, a UCLA student, was alright. Without any knowledge that a shooting had happened on the campus I somehow immediately knew that was the scenario my family members were referring to.

My friend is fine, but this isn’t about him. My immediate assumption when asked about the well-being of a college age friend was that there was a school shooting, and I was right.

It’s a bit ridiculous that public shootings have become so common in our society that they are the first thought some have when they’ve heard something is wrong. More frustrating than that is how we respond to these shootings. After each there is yet another call to change policies, and put in
preventative measures, which gets national attention for a week then fades away.

The reason often given for gun violence debates fading away, until of course the next shooting
comes around, is gridlock in our government. Democrats call for gun control, and recently Republicans have started calling for mental health care reform. Neither side is wrong: Better gun control and better mental health care would both likely reduce gun violence.

What happened at UCLA was fairly mild compared to other recent shootings years, but that should not diminish it. 

Reform aimed at fighting gun violence has been proposed many times over the past few years. Currently the U.S legislature is tossing around the Mental Health Reform Act of 2016. The act aims to make health care more accessible to those who need it. Hopefully this will pass, because when nothing gets done it doesn’t really matter who is right and who is wrong.

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