Maricopa County attorney: DOJ didn’t tell the full story about my office. Don’t trust their Phoenix police findings

(AZ Central): 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, the job involves waking up every day and putting their lives on the line.

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 Department of Justice so very dangerous.

It appears that The Republic’s editorial board accepted the so-called “DOJ Report” at face value, and is practically begging them to make us a vassal state.

Without a doubt, this would make Arizonans less safe and Phoenix a more dangerous place.

DOJ didn’t tell full story, ask right questions

Name me one thing — just one — that the federal government has touched in recent years and made better. The answer: Nothing.

Let’s be clear: Abuses by public servants should never be tolerated. But the DOJ report is nothing more than a politically driven document by people who want to undermine law enforcement.

Here’s what the DOJ report did not include: a full set of facts.

Nor did it ask the right questions. For example, the DOJ asked why there are so many shootings by police. Yet, it failed to ask why so many people are shooting at police or brandishing knives and other weapons at them.

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

But that’s not how the DOJ operates. Instead, they use bits and pieces of information to claim patterns or practices of misconduct with little or no supporting evidence.

Justice Department didn’t clean my house. I did

In many of the situations mentioned by the DOJ, the suspect committed a crime and someone called the police. Yet the DOJ questions the purpose of police involvement and, even more telling, does not mention the crime victims.

For an illustration of how DOJ goes light on the facts to orchestrate a conclusion, one need look no further than the report’s references to Maricopa County Attorney’s Office’s “involvement in the constitutional violations” regarding the 2020 downtown Phoenix protest cases.

It mentions how the State Bar of Arizona suspended the responsible prosecutor. The clear implication was that the State Bar had to come into the County Attorney’s Office and clean house. That assertion is false.

Here’s the truth: The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office cleaned its own 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 MCAO attorneys, testified against her at her Bar hearing.

The feds just want to control Phoenix police

But a full set of facts does not get you to DOJ’s ultimate agenda: controlling local police departments.

I’ve got news for them: A bunch of D.C. attorneys with no actual law enforcement experience will not make Phoenix safer. DOJ consent decrees do not yield better outcomes or safer communities. In fact, in most cities subject to DOJ consent decrees see violent crime increase within the first two years.

And then there’s the cost. Money that could be spent to hire more officers, retain those we have, train personnel or dedicate to other interdiction programs is instead spent chasing the DOJ mission creep.

If you dare fight the consent decree, it’s even worse. Just ask the taxpayers of Maricopa County who have forked over close to $300 million for things that occurred years ago.

What do we have to show for it?

An unelected federal judge running the Sheriff’s Office, a $100,000 per year tab for a floor of unused office space, slower investigations and demoralized deputies. All this with no end in sight because the “independent monitor” only gets paid as long as he continues to find problems.

Keep oversight with the city, not carpetbaggers

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

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

Phoenix police Chief Michael Sullivan has shown a dogged commitment to reform. Oversight should remain with him and the City Council, which answers to the voters.

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

Everyone needs to realize that DOJ carpetbaggers are never the solution.

Rachel Mitchell is Maricopa County attorney. On X, formerly Twitter: @Rachel1Mitchell.

This opinion piece was originally published at AZ Central.