Highlights of 2016
Thanks to the staff of MCAO and our law enforcement partners, it’s been a great year at the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office.
Here are some particularly notable activities and accomplishments:
As of press time, we’ve had more than 24,000 cases filed with 12,614 completed. The total number of submittals from law enforcement has been over 36,000. Despite this busy caseload, crime rates remain at a 50-year low and dropped another 3.4% in the last year. Arizona continues to see lower crime rates than what the rest of the nation is experiencing.
These numbers give you a sense of how busy our prosecutors are every day, but we also work vigilantly to be a partner in the community and put efforts toward preventing crime and teaching residents how to avoid becoming a victim. We do this through a vigorous Community Affairs Program, Speakers Bureau and through contributions to crucial community organizations, both through grants and employee contributions.
Among the highlights:
The National District Attorneys Association (NDAA) named Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery Co-chair of the Metropolitan Prosecutors Committee during their recent Fall Board Meeting in California. This new appointment comes after Montgomery’s August appointment as NDAA State Director for Arizona by the Arizona Prosecuting Attorneys’ Advisory Council (APAAC).
Over the past year, MCAO has secured two grants that have funded the testing of sex assault kits in Maricopa County. Kit contents are tested for viable DNA profiles, which are then entered into state and national databases, such as the national Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), to help identify the perpetrator. In cases involving known alleged assailants, evidence from sexual assault kits can also be used to identify serial offenders. We so far have spent $135,000 of our first grant ($1.9 million). This has allowed us to submit almost 760 kits to be tested.
MCAO has been working all year with law enforcement, health care professionals and other stakeholders to develop a Sex Assault Protocol that will be used County-wide to serve victims and ensure that any evidence is properly maintained and tested.
Three of our innovative community programs won a National Association of Counties (NACo) Achievement Award: Friday Night Football Patrol, Safe Kids Summer and the “Don’t Leave Me Behind” Vehicular Heatstroke Campaign. The awards were granted in the category of Civic Education and Public Information for the 2015 calendar year.
Friday Night Football Patrol: We had our best season ever, with 8,612 pledges signed. Since the program’s inception in 2011, more than 35,000 students have signed the Teen Drug-Free Pledge. This is the sixth season FNFP volunteers have visited high school football games in Maricopa County to encourage students to sign the Teen Drug-Free Pledge. By signing the pledge, these teens are vowing to stay drug and alcohol-free and avoid abusing prescription medication.
Safe Kids Summer: MCAO held 27 Safe Kids Summer events throughout the valley, making contact with 2,426 kids! The Safe Kids Summer awareness program was created to reach a large number of school-age children in Maricopa County and increase safety awareness in the pool, at home, at school and online. MCAO volunteers staff booths at different public and private swimming pools each week and ask kids age-appropriate questions about how they practice home, school and pool safety.
“Don’t Leave Me Behind” Vehicular Heatstroke Campaign: During the months of June and July, the “Hot Car” campaign mobile billboard truck traveled over 4,000 miles from Avondale, to Queen Creek, Peoria, Gilbert, Phoenix, Mesa and all parts of Maricopa County delivering the simple, but critical message that leaving a child or an animal in a parked car can lead to serious injury or death. An active social media campaign using the hashtag #dontleavemebehind delivered the message to a wider audience. These proved to be our most popular tweets all summer, earning 10,000 impressions, especially when they featured our furry friends. For the first time in anyone’s memory, Arizona had zero hot car deaths during the summer months.
Another well-deserved distinction was earned by MCAO’s Investigations Division, which received Advanced Accreditation from the highly-respected Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA). Known as “the gold standard in public safety,” a CALEA accreditation represents the pinnacle of professional excellence and integrity. MCAO participated in a Gold Standard Assessment for the second time, the first in 2013 and MCAO was also named a CALEA Flagship agency in 2010.
Other community programs:
Red Ribbon Anti-Drug Programs: 49 presentations to more than 7,440 students
MCAO Speakers Bureau provided 110 presentations to 4,955 people
Shred-A-Thons: To date, MCAO has hosted five Shred-A-Thons, shredding nearly 230 tons of documents and three Rx Take-Back events, disposing of more than 339 pounds of prescription drugs.
MCAO Booths: MCAO reaches its largest number of public contacts through these high-visibility events in the community. To date, MCAO hosted 64 booths, reaching more than 13,000 people.
The MCAO also gives back to the community through Community Grants funded by the RICO program. A total of $244,710 was granted to 19 organizations including Boy Scouts of America, Boys and Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Phoenix, Free Arts for Abused Children of Arizona, Streetlight USA, AZ Common Ground and NotMYKid, to name just a few.
More than 242 volunteers have given more than 1600 hours of their time to support MCAO community programs. They’ve also been generous in supporting community organizations.
In 2016, MCAO staff raised:
- $4,893 for the Special Olympics
- $2,617 for the 100 Club of Arizona
- $3,747 for Salvation Army Adult Recovery
- More than $24,000 for the Maricopa County Combined Charitable Campaign
- More than $3,000 for the Chrysalis Shelter
It was also a big year for our Victims Services dogs. MCAO’s first K-9 employee, Sam, hung up his vest after six years of dedicated service to hundreds of crime victims. Elle and Tori continue their service. Stay tuned for information about a new dog who is being trained to come on board in the very near future. In a victory for the program, on August 6, House Bill 2375 went into effect, requiring courts to allow minor victims to have a facility dog when testifying and permits the court to allow them under other circumstances as well.
We are proud of our work to hold offenders accountable, honor the rights of crime victims, and protect and strengthen the community. We look forward to continuing and building on this success in 2017!