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Maricopa County Attorney's Office Newsletter - Justice for All
Maricopa County Attorney’s Office • December 2016 Newsletter

From the Desk of Bill Montgomery

As the year winds to a close, this is a great opportunity to take a look back at a successful and active year for this Office. First, I want to let you know that I’m honored to continue to serve you for another term as Maricopa County Attorney. It’s an awesome responsibility, but I am committed to the fair application of justice and to holding criminals accountable.

Beginning in 2013, we started moving toward a more community-based approach to prosecution, aligning our trial bureaus into geographic areas to facilitate greater relationships and understanding of the unique and varied communities in this, the fourth largest county by population in the nation. This approach continues and I look forward to building bridges of unity between County residents and our office.

We are now in the thick of the holiday season, and we will be kicking off our annual holiday “Save Lives, Don’t DUI” campaign and partnership with Uber and iHeartMedia. So, please enjoy the parties, but know you have options to get home safely and make sure others get home safely too.

I’d like to announce that in our effort to provide more information to the public and on a more frequent basis, we’ve launched a new blog called “The Opening Statement.” On this blog, you’ll find information on a wide range of criminal justice and public safety topics. You can even subscribe to receive new posts via email. The blog can be found at: OpeningStatementBlog.com, or through our website at MaricopaCountyAttorney.org.

If you’re not already following us on Facebook and Twitter, you can find our official accounts at:
Twitter: @MarCoAttorney
Facebook: fb.com/maricopacountyattorney

Happy Holidays!
Bill Montgomery
Bill Montgomery, Maricopa County Attorney

Lady Justice

  In This Issue

     

Highlights of 2016

MCAO Launches Blog on Criminal Justice and Public Safety

Montgomery Named Co-chair of NDAA Metropolitan Prosecutors Committee

First National Training on Prosecutor-Led Diversion Held in Phoenix

Join us for the Citizens Academy

MCAO to Launch 2016 “Save Lives, Don’t DUI” Holiday Campaign with Uber and iHeartMedia

Walk to End Drunk Driving

MCAO Children’s Room wins a 2016 County Summit Award

Upcoming Events Calendar

Our job is to ensure the guilty do not escape justice and innocence does not suffer.

Highlights of 2016

  Goodbye 2016 - Hello 2017

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.

Awards:

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.

Community Grants:

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.

Charitable Contributions:

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!

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MCAO Launches Blog on
Criminal Justice and Public Safety

  The Opening Statement logo

In its ongoing effort to provide the public with current information on some of the most important issues facing our community, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office has launched The Opening Statement, a blog focusing on key topics in criminal justice and public safety. The blog can be found at: OpeningStatementBlog.com

“As the third largest County Attorney’s Office in the nation, we are in the trenches every day working to prevent crime and seek justice for those impacted by crime,” said County Attorney Bill Montgomery. “By having open communication with the public, and providing real world information to lawmakers, we can work together to better achieve our public safety goals. As a new avenue of communication, The Opening Statement blog will help us provide clarity and set the record straight with facts and objective information about our criminal justice system.”

The Opening Statement will provide regular posts on a wide array of topics, from community policing and prosecution to the nexus of substance abuse and crime, profiles of criminal cases that have been resolved and interesting facts about the County Attorney’s Office. Readers can subscribe to the blog and receive new posts by email.

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Montgomery Named Co-chair of NDAA Metropolitan Prosecutors Committee

  Bill Montgomery Named Co-chair of National District Attorneys Association

The National District Attorneys Association (NDAA) named Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery as 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.

“I am honored to now represent prosecutors not only in Arizona, but large jurisdictions across the country as we continue to focus on maintaining the integrity of our criminal justice system,” Montgomery stated. “Arizona has been a leader in criminal justice reform and this appointment will allow me to share our successes with other states while learning from the successful ideas of others.”

Mike Freeman, District Attorney for Hennepin County in Minnesota, is chair of the Metropolitan Section and was pleased with the selection. “Bill Montgomery is one of the leading prosecutors in the country,” Freeman said. “His wise leadership in Maricopa County will add greatly to the efforts of the National District Attorneys Association to share best practices with our colleagues across the country. We are honored to have him move into this critical leadership role.”

NDAA is the largest professional association of prosecutors in the country, providing prosecutors with training, as well as a forum to discuss and influence important national, state and local issues affecting law enforcement and prosecution. Representatives from NDAA regularly meet with the Department of Justice, members of Congress and other national associations to represent the views of prosecutors on federal and national policies.

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First National Training on
Prosecutor-Led Diversion Held in Phoenix

  Prosecutor-Led Diversion Training Held in Phoenix

On November 12 and 13, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office participated in the very first Association of Prosecuting Attorneys’ (APA) Regional Training for Prosecutor-Led Diversion. Held in Phoenix, this training was organized to equip attendees with the knowledge and skills necessary to develop prosecutor-led diversion programs in Maricopa County and other jurisdictions and will help build the next generation of such programming.

Diversion programs provide treatment options through safe and effective community-based programs to those who may have committed a criminal offense, usually based on a substance abuse issue or mental illness for which incarceration may not be the best answer.

“We have developed successful diversion programs here in Maricopa County, and are proud that our programs now serve as models for other prosecutorial agencies,” said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. “These programs serve a vital role in our criminal justice system and provide a strong rebuke to the mass incarceration myth.”

David LaBahn, President and CEO of APA, applauded Montgomery’s leadership in developing MCAO’s diversion programs. “Having prosecutors thoroughly analyze cases to identify individuals who are in need of care versus those who require incarceration provides true service to the community.”

Robert W. Hood, Director of the Community Prosecution and Violent Crime Division for APA, agreed, “The recently completed training in Phoenix represents an important milestone in the National Prosecutor-Led Diversion Initiative. The APA is highly appreciative of Mr. Montgomery’s willingness to host this important event and help the nation’s prosecutors build the next generation of prosecutor-led diversion programming.”

The two-day training was offered through the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys in collaboration with the Bureau of Justice Assistance and the Center for Court Innovation.

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Join us for the Citizens Academy

Go behind the scenes at the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office and see first-hand how prosecutors assemble a case for trial. From arrest and booking to prosecution and sentencing, the award-winning MCAO Citizens Academy takes you through the jail and into court to see each critical stage of the process. The daylong program is a must for anyone interested in seeing our criminal justice system in action and learning about the real “Law and Order.”

For information and an application, visit MaricopaCountyAttorney.org/Academy

Upcoming Dates for 2017

Thursday, January 19, 2017
Thursday, February 16, 2017
Thursday, March 16, 2017
Thursday, April 13, 2017
Applications due two weeks before class date.
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MCAO to Launch 2016 “Save Lives, Don’t DUI” Holiday Campaign with Uber and iHeartMedia

  Save Lives, Don’t DUI Holiday Campaign with Uber and iHeartMedia

As the holiday season approaches, social calendars fill up with invitations from family and friends for fun times and celebrations. To help keep Maricopa County residents safe during the holiday season, MCAO is partnering with Uber to offer discounted rides from Dec. 15 through Dec. 31.

“We want to remind our friends and neighbors that there is an easy alternative to get to and from holiday parties this season,” said County Attorney Bill Montgomery. “Ridesharing services such as Uber can help prevent tragic outcomes that occur when someone makes the irresponsible—and illegal—decision to drink and drive.”

New Uber users can access a $15 credit, good for their first ride, by downloading the Uber app and entering the promo code MCAOHoliday. Existing users can enter to win free rides (two rides up to $50 each way) on New Year’s Eve from Uber by entering the promo code WINUBER. Winners will be notified on December 28, 2016. Please remember that Uber surge charges may apply during peak times.

MCAO’s media partners at iHeartRadio will share this message with their listeners. The “Save Lives, Don’t DUI” campaign will hit the airwaves on 99.9 KEZ, Mix 96.9, 104.7 KISS FM, KNIX, KFYI 550, KFYI2 1230 AM, 95.5 The Mountain and FOX Sports 910 AM. MCAO’s “Save Lives, Don’t DUI” campaign reinforces that good decisions help avoid bad consequences. State-sponsored DUI task forces will be active throughout the valley during the month of December. Avoid the consequences of a DUI citation by planning ahead—designate a driver or use a ridesharing service. Do your part to make this a happy and safe holiday season.

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Walk to End Drunk Driving

  MCAO Walk Warriors at Walk Like MADD

The MCAO was proud to be among the sponsors and community partners for this year’s Walk Like MADD fundraising event to raise awareness and eliminate the dangers of drunk driving. The MCAO “Walk Warriors” team included County Attorney Bill Montgomery, who spoke during the opening ceremony. The MCAO team joined more than 600 other participants at the Phoenix Zoo on October 22 to elevate community consciousness and educate others—all while walking for a good cause. The 26-member MCAO team easily completed the three-mile trek around the zoo and raised both awareness and money to help those who have been impacted by drunk drivers. Eight-year-old Walk Warrior team member Kylie Gurtler recognized the importance of this event, “It was very nice to show some respect for people who have lost a loved one. People who donated to this cause were very generous.” Team Captain and MCAO prosecutor Rebecca Baker echoed Kylie’s sentiments, “Walk Like MADD is a great community event and gives us the chance to support those who have been hurt by drunk driving. It was a beautiful morning to be at the zoo, walking to raise awareness and spread the word about this 100% preventable crime.” The MCAO Walk Warriors were one of nearly 1,400 teams around the country who collectively raised $2.2 million in MADD’s signature fundraising event. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is the nation’s largest nonprofit working to protect families from drunk and underage drinking and driving.

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MCAO Children’s Room wins a
2016 County Summit Award

  Family Vacation

The Arizona Association of Counties (AACo) recently presented the MCAO Children’s Room with a 2016 Summit Award in Criminal Justice and Public Safety. These awards recognize the innovative and creative spirit within Arizona county governments. The MCAO Children’s Room was created to help minimize the trauma and stress children often feel when they become engaged with the criminal justice system as victims and witnesses. This kid-friendly, brightly painted and decorated room was designed to be non-threatening and fun. It is located on the 5th floor of the MCAO, the same floor as our Sex Crimes and Family Violence prosecution bureaus and it is outfitted with child-friendly features like games, movies, kids’ furniture and stuffed animals to help young victims and witnesses alleviate stress and even boredom prior to their court or deposition appearances. The room is currently being reserved at the rate of three times per week and is also used by walk-ins and children of adult victims and witnesses who visit the Office. Prosecutors, advocates and support staff, in addition to the MCAO K9s, are frequent visitors. MCAO Victim’s Advocate Reem Constantine, Chief of the Child Advocacy Bureau, reminds us that often child victims who come in contact with the MCAO are frightened and nervous, “The prosecutor’s office and the courtroom are scary places for kids. Often these children have seen or been victims of horrible crimes like aggravated assaults, robberies and sex abuse,” said Reem. “The Children’s Room makes this experience less traumatic and makes our job easier when these young victims are comfortable and happy. We are so lucky to be able to support this calm and relaxing place during a stressful and frightening time.” The AACo recognizes not only innovative and unique County programs, but also those that are cost-effective and positively affect the community.

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Upcoming Events Calendar Image

Upcoming Events Calendar

Avondale Winterfest
Saturday, December 3
5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Historic Avondale
495 East Western Avenue
Avondale, AZ 85323
Shred-A-Thon
Saturday, December 10
7:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
Target-Chandler Fashion Square
3425 West Frye Road
Chandler, AZ 85226

Events are subject to change. Check MaricopaCountyAttorney.org to stay up to date with our events.

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