Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery launches PSAs for public to report crime

PHOENIX - Crime is trending downward, and Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery announced Wednesday he's launching public service announcements to continue the movement.

The PSAs will begin next month and continue throughout 2014, urging people to report crimes, County Attorney spokesman Jerry Cobb said.

Montgomery said there is a link between reporting and reducing crime and that "reporting crime is everyone's responsibility."

One of the main points of the PSAs, Montgomery said, is that victims and witnesses do not need to worry about their immigration status being investigated if they report a crime.

"It is our first duty to hold the offender accountable," Montgomery said.

But many in the Hispanic community are finding it tough to trust those promises. 

ABC15 met with one Valley woman who is being terrorized by a blackmailer, but is even more fearful of being deported.

ABC15 agreed not to reveal her real name or identity, so we will call her Elena.

Elena's ordeal began when a close friend in Mexico called to borrow nearly $3,000 dollars. The friend said a man who claimed to be an out-of-state police officer offered to get her legal status, but she had to pay for the services.

Elena was suspicious of the claims, but agreed to loan her friend the money.

Elena told ABC15, the man is now calling her claiming he knows she's illegal and can get her legal papers for an additional $3,000.

"It's a lie, I know it's a lie," said Elena.

Elena's friend has never received her legal papers.

But Elena refused to pay up and so now she claims she's being threatened.

"He said he knows where I live and he'll have me deported," said Elena.

Those threats are now escalating to violence.

"He said if I don't pay, my friend will suffer consequences or he'll find me and hurt me," Elena explained.

Yet, Elena won't report the crimes, because she doesn't know who to trust and doesn't believe officials won't deport her.

It's stories like these that have prompted County Attorney Bill Montgomery to tell crime victims and witnesses that they won't be deported.

"When you report crime, your immigration status doesn't matter. That's the law. We don't need to hide,"  Montgomery points out in the PSA's

In 2012, violent crime in Maricopa County fell by 2.3 percent from 2011 and property crimes dropped more than 14 percent, Cobb said.

The series of PSA's will be shown over cable and broadcast channels, Cobb said. The series of videos is broadcast in English and Spanish.

The videos will also be posted to the County Attorney's website , and notified through social media.

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