MCSO mismanagement of sex crimes to bring more lawsuits?

PHOENIX - The ABC15 Investigators uncovered how taxpayers have had to dish out $50 million in court costs and legal fees related to the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.

Now some are concerned MCSO's mismanagement of hundreds of sex crimes cases may lead to even more lawsuits.

The person sounding the alarm is Monica Sandschafer, executive director for the community organization Living United for Change in Arizona, better known as LUCHA.

"And what is obvious about this lack of investigation of sex crimes is that he doesn't care about our public safety, he cares about going after a politically popular issue like immigration," said Sandschafer.

Following an ABC15 investigation uncovering how MCSO failed to properly investigate hundreds of sex crimes cases, LUCHA launched an online petition calling for Sheriff Joe Arpaio's resignation.

Sandschafer said, "We need to know what work is being done and what work is not being done with the money that we pay."

Several cities contract with MCSO to provide law enforcement duties.

For two years El Mirage was one of those cities.

In October 2007, Arpaio marked the end of that contract with a large-scale immigration sweep.

I was there and at the time he told me, "some cities want their own police departments but we gave them good service here the last two years."

But when El Mirage Police began to review MCSO's files, they found MCSO detectives failed to investigate dozens of sex crime cases involving young children.

MCSO then conceded more than 400 sex crimes cases countywide lacked investigative effort.

Sandschafer asked this of the Maricopa Board of Supervisors during a meeting on Monday, "I'm concerned about potential lawsuits given the lack of investigation on these sex crimes for breach of contract."

She wanted to know if they have a budget to cover potential lawsuits or whether taxpayers will be on the hook.

Chairman Andrew Kunasek simply told her, "I'm not going to respond to that today."

I emailed him asking for a response but he did not respond.

ABC15 also sent a photographer to Wednesday's Board of Supervisors meeting to get a response but our photographer was told Kunasek did not have time to speak with him.

Meantime, El Mirage added a review of its former contract with MCSO to its council agenda for Thursday.

At this time it is unclear if the city will be asking MCSO to reimburse it for funds.

El Mirage Councilman James McPhetres said, "If it looks like we need restitution from MCSO to make our residents whole, I mean we paid for a service and if it looks like that service wasn't given to the citizens then we need to make some arrangement for that."

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