City warned of wrong kidnapping stats back in 2009

PHOENIX - Phoenix's top city officials were warned about inaccurate kidnapping statistics as early as 2009, according to new records obtained by ABC15.

The City Manager's Office received at least a dozen memos and letters from a police sergeant who claimed the numbers were "shifted and moved" beginning in August 2009. Those warnings were ignored by city officials, who claimed the numbers were reviewed and audited several times.

Last week, the ABC15 Investigators broke a story uncovering major discrepancies in the city's 2008 kidnapping statistics, which were used to get millions of dollars in federal grants.

And on Monday, we learned that federal investigators from the Department of Justice Office of Inspector General were in Phoenix for a second time to conduct interviews with police staff.

Sgt. Phil Roberts, a former kidnapping investigator, is the person who wrote those memos. And while he was alerting police and city leaders, he asked for "whistle-blower protection."

However, he was denied multiple times. He was also placed under internal investigation and reassigned.

City Manager David Cavazos and Assistant City Manager Ed Zuercher did not respond to an interview request.

But through a city spokesperson, Zuercher said, "on several occasions various people questioned the statistics. Each time (I) checked with Public Safety Manager Harris, and Harris confirmed that the numbers were accurate."

During a news conference, Cavazos said that he first heard about wrong statistics on Monday, Feb. 28.

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