MCSO should work with, not against, other police agencies - East Valley Tribune: Columnists

MCSO should work with, not against, other police agencies

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Retired Mesa master police officer Bill Richardson lives in the East Valley and can be reached at

Posted: Friday, August 20, 2010 3:45 am | Updated: 11:28 pm, Wed May 25, 2011.

We've armed our law enforcement officers with 17-shot pistols, AR15's, Tasers and body armor, but we're still only half equipping them for urban combat.

We have yet to give them the proper technology they need to identify who and what they're confronting.

In today's modern world, officers should be able to search millions of records on people, places, crimes, behaviors, vehicles and descriptions within seconds from their radio or computer.

That 21st Century technology is available and in use - just not here, at least to the extent that it should be.

There's a giant hole in Maricopa County's ability to deliver pubic safety in a manner that can keep up with an ever-evolving criminal element that knows no local, county, state or international boundaries. Cross-border crime has now become Maricopa County crime.

For the last three years, the East Valley and West Valley Police Chief's Association and their federal partners have been working to create a shared information database that can bring law enforcement in Maricopa County online like it is done in Pima County.

Last week, more than 60 high-ranking law enforcement officials met in Scottsdale to hammer out a plan and bring Maricopa County policing into the the 21st Century. A steering committee was formed and giant steps taken. The committee has the authority to act and move the process on a very aggressive time line. This was a huge "first" in Maricopa county-wide law enforcement history.

On hand were police chiefs and members of their command staff from throughout Maricopa county; the Arizona heads and ranking officials from the FBI, ICE, Drug Enforcement Agency, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; U.S. Marshal; U.S. Border Patrol; the director of the of the federal drug intelligence center known as HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas); Gov. Jan Brewer's directors and bureau chiefs from the Department of Public Safety, Corrections, Arizona Counter Terroism Intelligence Center, Criminal Justice Commission and Homeland Security; state and county prosecutors; and the deputy director of the Rocky Mountain Information Network, a multi-state information sharing system.

The meeting for agency heads was coordinated by interim Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley and hosted by Scottsdale Police Chief Alan Rodbell.

Missing from this "A List" of top law enforcement officials was Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who had a speaking engagement previously scheduled in San Diego. MCSO sent a lieutenant to represent our only county-wide police agency.

Since reports of the extremely successful summit surfaced in a Tribune story, Maricopa County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Dave Hendershott has publicly attacked the combined efforts of local, state and federal law enforcement leaders and Romley. He proclaimed MCSO already has the information sharing problem solved and everyone is wasting their time. Bold talk from someone who didn't attend the meeting and who is second in command of an agency that has refused to join the East Valley Fusion Center information database or participate in the Fugitive Coordinating Committee, an intelligence-driven policing program that identifies, locates and is responsible for the arrests of many of the county's 38,000 wanted felons.

If MCSO already had a solution and system in place, then why did dozens of law enforcement leaders meet to fix this huge hole in county-wide public safety that contributes so much to serious crime?

Fighting crime is a team effort, not a one-man show. MCSO should be a valuable partner to the effort, not a detractor for the hard work and dedication being put forth by the law enforcement leadership team that serves and protects all county residents.


Retired Mesa master police officer Bill Richardson lives in the East Valley and can be reached at


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