Phoenix Police Department Forced To Admit That Its Border-Related Kidnapping Statistics Are ‘Exaggerated’

This past summer, I wrote about a former kidnapping investigator for the Phoenix Police Department who claimed that the his employer “inflat[ed] its kidnapping numbers, possibly to get federal stimulus money.” In 2008 the Phoenix Police Department reported 358 kidnappings. In 2010, those kidnapping statistics garnered at least $2.45 million in federal funds towards the Phoenix Police Department. They were also often cited by politicians — including Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Jon Kyl (R-AZ) — who repeatedly claimed that Phoenix is the “second kidnapping capital of the world” to defend the state’s tough immigration law.

Yet, according to Sgt. Phil Roberts, only 20 to 30 “traditional” kidnappings occurred in Phoenix in 2008 — a range which more closely resembles that of surrounding cities. In February, a Phoenix New Times analysis of the reported kidnappings showed that “only about one out of every four incidents labeled as kidnappings in 2008 appeared connected to border-related crimes.”

Nonetheless, the Phoenix Police Department adamantly denied Roberts’ allegations up until this week when they were forced to admit that the border-related kidnappings statistics are inaccurate. Yesterday, the Phoenix Police released a statement backing away from the kidnapping numbers:

As a result of the audit, the department has determined that there are reports that do not belong in these statistics. The Phoenix Police Department has determined that there are also numerous other existing reports that were not included within the kidnapping statistics, but should have been. Therefore, the audit has identified challenges with how cases are classified within case management.


One city councilwoman claims that police officials have known the figures were wrong since August 2010, but continued to deny allegations that they weren’t for months. Phoenix’s ABC 15 acquired an audio recording in which the Phoenix Police Department’s Lt. Lauri Burgett stated, “Commander Klima and I found out early on that the information and statistics he was putting out, it was exaggerated.” Meanwhile, it is still unclear whether the numbers were purposefully inflated by the Phoenix Police Department.