The Justice Department’s takeover of Phoenix police will make the city more dangerous

The Justice Department’s takeover of Phoenix police will make the city more dangerous

The Justice Department’s takeover of Phoenix police will make the city more dangerous

Opinion: The Justice Department sharply criticized the Maricopa County District Attorney’s Office in its investigation into Phoenix police, but omitted key facts.


Public safety is the backbone of our community, and our men and women in blue are the ones on the front lines.

More than ever, work means waking up every day and risking your life.

That’s what makes The Arizona Republic’s recent editorial advocating for a hostile takeover of the Phoenix Police Department by the Biden administration’s Justice Department so dangerous.

It appears that The Republic’s editorial board has accepted the so-called “Justice Department Report” at face value and is practically begging them to turn us into a vassal state.

This would undoubtedly make Arizonans less safe and Phoenix a more dangerous place.

The Justice Department did not tell the whole story or ask the right questions

Name one thing, just one thing, that the federal government has changed in recent years and improved. The answer: nothing.

Let’s be clear: abuse by public officials should never be tolerated, but the Justice Department report is nothing more than a politically driven document by people who want to undermine law enforcement.

Here’s what the Justice Department report didn’t include: a complete set of facts.

Nor did it ask the right questions. For example, the Justice Department asked why there are so many police shootings, but it did not ask why so many people shoot at police or brandish knives and other weapons at them.

Nor did it take into account the federal government’s failure to address the fentanyl epidemic or open borders that have led to more crime in our Maricopa County neighborhoods.

But the Justice Department doesn’t operate like that. Instead, it uses scraps of information to claim patterns or practices of misconduct with little or no evidence to support them.

The Department of Justice didn’t clean my house. I did.

In many of the situations cited by the Justice Department, the suspect committed a crime and someone called the police. However, the Justice Department questions the purpose of the police intervention and, even more tellingly, does not mention the victims of the crime.

For an example of the Justice Department failing to carefully analyze the facts to reach a conclusion, look no further than the report’s references to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office’s “involvement in constitutional violations” in connection with the 2020 downtown Phoenix protests.

It is mentioned that the State Bar of Arizona suspended the prosecutor responsible. The clear implication was that the State Bar had to go to the County Attorney’s Office and put things in order. That claim is false.

The truth is this: The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office cleaned house. Policy changes were made and corrective actions were taken, including dismissing cases and referring this person to the Bar. I fired her and, along with other attorneys from the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, testified against her at her Bar hearing.

The feds just want to control the Phoenix police

But a complete set of facts is not enough to achieve the Justice Department’s ultimate goal: controlling local police departments.

I have news for them: a group of DC lawyers with no real law enforcement experience. It will not Making Phoenix a safer place. DOJ consent decrees do not produce better outcomes or safer communities. In fact, in most cities subject to DOJ consent decrees, violent crime increases within the first two years.

And then there’s the cost. Money that could be spent on hiring more agents, retaining the ones we have, training personnel or devoting to other interdiction programs is instead spent on pursuing the expansion of the Justice Department’s mission.

Phoenix’s endgame with the Justice Department: Is it still ‘let’s make a deal’?

If they dare to oppose the consent decree, things will be even worse. Just ask the taxpayers of Maricopa County, who have shelled out nearly $300 million for things that happened years ago.

What do we have to show?

An unelected federal judge in charge of the Sheriff’s Office, a $100,000-a-year bill for an unused office floor, slower investigations and demoralized officers. All of this with no end in sight because the “independent monitor” only gets paid as long as he keeps finding problems.

Let’s keep oversight in the hands of the city, not opportunists

Without a doubt, the safety of our residents is paramount. As a career Maricopa County prosecutor, I have maintained my ethical commitment to protecting crime victims and preserving civil rights.

If there was evidence of irregularities or widespread corruption, I can guarantee that my office would be investigating it.

Phoenix Police Chief Michael Sullivan has demonstrated a tenacious commitment to reform. Oversight should remain in the hands of him and the City Council, which is accountable to voters.

The men and women of the Phoenix police force, who risk their lives every day, deserve our gratitude, not our condemnation.

Everyone must realize that opportunists in the Department of Justice are never the solution.

Rachel Mitchell is a Maricopa County District Attorney. On X, formerly on Twitter: @Rachel1Mitchell.