MCSO employees will not be disciplined for mishandling hundreds of child sex crimes

PHOENIX - Maricopa County Sheriff's supervisors and deputies directly involved in the mishandling of hundreds of sex crimes cases will not be disciplined, despite a 2011 recommendation to suspend several employees.

"If there were any victims out there, I apologize to those victims," Sheriff Joe Arpaio said in a December 2011 news conference. "Sometimes in a large law enforcement agency, these sort of situations occur."

According to letters dated February 11, 2013 and sent to various MCSO employees, the failure by MCSO to properly investigate hundreds of sex crimes cases – most of which involved children – is the result of a "systemic problem" that could not be solved by disciplining just a "few individuals."

The letter, signed by MCSO Executive Chief, Brian Sands, blames insufficient staffing, budget restrictions, and improper investigative tools as reasons MCSO investigators were unable to properly handle the cases.

Sands said MCSO is working to improve the problems within the sheriff's office by upgrading their case tracking system to make it completely computerized.

By the end of February, they also hope to add two detectives to the Special Victims Unit, tasked with investigating sex crimes. The unit currently has 13 members, including two sergeants and 11 detectives. 

Sands also said, "SVU command staff and detectives have also received and will continue to receive extensive training and refresher courses relevant to the investigation and management of sex crime and child abuse cases."

MCSO has also upgraded its sex offender tracking system and plans to implement a state-of-the-art records management system by the end of the year, Sands' letter indicated.

MCSO released this statement:

With the release of over 20,000 pages of documents, the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office officially closed its internal investigation into the mishandling of sex crimes cases which occurred between 2004 and 2008, marking the end of the disciplinary portion of this investigation.

However, in 2007 when the Office became aware of this issue, corrective actions were immediately implemented to prevent a recurrence and work began to bring closure to any pending cases. Each case was reopened, reinvestigated and audited multiple times. Problems and causes were identified and rectified.  

The internal investigation shows that the problems were not unique to this agency and were systemic in nature.  It is the policy of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office to seek continual improvement in all its operations.

Please refer to the letter dated February 11, 2013 for a detailed explanation as to what changes have been instituted to the Special Victim's Unit.

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