Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

April 10, 2008

Host: Ted Simons

Phoenix Mayor Gordon

  • Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon appears on Horizon to talk about the crime suppression efforts being conducted by Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
  • Phil Gordon - Mayor of Phoenix
Category: Immigration

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
Hello, and welcome to "Horizons." I'm Ted Simons. Before we get to the main topics, the latest news, Arizona corporation commissioner Chris May said she is not going to run for the congressional seat in district one. That is the seat that will be vacated by Renzi. Not too many politicians take a tough stand of any sort against Maricopa County Sheriff Arpaio, but Mayor Gordon did recently at a Cesar Chavez lunch in. Criticized the crime suppression sweeps. We will talk to the mayor. Gordon held a breakfast meeting this morning to discuss a global trade delegation. He talked about the first target for the delegation, a partnership with Dubai.

Phil Gordon:
We are establishing direct relationships, there are four goals that my colleagues and I want to establish and discuss today. First and foremost from my perspective, that we want emirates Phoenix Sky Harbor flight to open the gateway to the Middle East and beyond. To explore research and joint venture partnerships, and to support emerging local technology, innovation with the focus on health care, information, communications, and most importantly solar energy and other sustainable technologies. Third, to explore direct investment and marketing opportunities both in Dubai and Phoenix, so it benefits both of our great cities. And finally, the biggest lesson I've learned during my visit to Dubai was their incredible, most incredible ability to market themselves on everyone's front burner. When it comes to marketing, I haven't seen anything better both as a city or private entities. So my fourth goal is to form a marketing partnership with Dubai, to market Phoenix to the rest of the world, and to put us on everyone's' map.

Ted Simons:
Here now to talk about that issue, criticism of the sheriff and other issues is Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon. "Horizon" invited sheriff Arpaio to be on the show but he declined. Before we get to immigration and Sheriff Arpaio, what we heard the global trade partnership, what does this mean?

Phil Gordon:
This means about going forward for Phoenix into the future and really securing our future. Four years ago when I took office, I thought that we needed to move the city and valley away from the set of competing against each other's city, Tempe, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Glendale, and rather look at the regions of the world that we should be competing against. Now, after a short four years, we shouldn't be competing against regions of the world. We need to be partners as a city with the regions of the world. It truly is a global economy, and if we are going to succeed in the future, we need economic relationships with cities like us that are on the rise, that are strong, and develop those economic relationships, and by the way, they will make us safer by investing in each other's cities as opposed to what is going on in the world today.

Ted Simons:
Good chance that the flight from the UAE to Sky Harbor any time soon?

Phil Gordon:
Actually we will be announcing by fall a new international flight, not the emirate flight, but we're under negotiations and discussions. Emirate airlines announced a direct flight from Los Angeles to Dubai, and today San Francisco to Dubai. Pretty close, Houston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, you know, I don't know that there is much in between.

Ted Simons:
All right. Very good. Let's get to immigration, Sheriff Joe Arpaio and your thoughts on what seems to be getting awfully close to a tipping point. I mean, talk to us about nerves, about tension, about the tenor of this debate.

Phil Gordon:
Well, first let me point out that there have been a lot of voices now being raised in terms of the actions of the sheriff as they relate to the safety of all law enforcement agents, whether they're undercover, patrolling, Mesa police, Phoenix police, West Valley police, federal agents and the community at large, and really the safety of the community because of these sweeps. It is not just myself raising the voice. What I raised a couple of weeks ago and continue to raise and felt compelled to raise because of the safety issues was that first and foremost, professional law enforcement heads have to not only notify other agencies when they're in their jurisdictions, but work with and coordinate, notification either a day after a raid or during or a couple of hours before doesn't ensure the safety of any officers that are in the area, including those officers or posse members in the area. The second thing, and most importantly also if there are that many available resources at the county, 200 officers, great individuals, that are protecting the community and want to go after criminals, rather than using those individuals to target and go after individuals that are dropping pieces of paper on the ground, i.e. littering, driving with broken taillights, jay walking, whether they're in north Phoenix, whether they're in central Phoenix or in Maricopa, use those resources together with the helicopter, the SWAT teams, the horse patrols that he has been using to go after the criminals that are terrorizing our entire valleys and that there are warrants out already sitting on his desk that are out there convicted felons, those that are wanted by the court, that are dealing drugs, homicide, burglaries, those are where we should put our priorities. That is where every other law enforcement agency puts its resources

Ted Simons:
Are you saying the Sheriff is not notifying phoenix police prior to the sweeps? Is he not notifying them in time? Not notifying them enough?

Phil Gordon:
Two things, number one the first quote, crime suppression right in Phoenix, 26th street and Thomas, the notification came two hours after he notified KTR and other agencies and it was posted on the web. Our notice came from KTR calling us for a comment. As a result of that discussion and the news putting that out, then the commander of the precinct was notified two hours afterwards. That is not the way the protocol was working before. The following raid crime suppression in north Phoenix was announced two or three days before and an email was sent to Phoenix police and they acknowledged back that they got it. What our chief wants, Mesa chief wants, what other chiefs want, and what I've asked for, the professionals, not the politicians, not Sheriff Arpaio and myself that are elected, but the professionals to notify not only each other but to work with and coordinate. When the sheriff sends in 200 officers, deputies, SWAT members into areas, that is a square mile. Everyone can picture the number of alleys, driveways, apartment complexes, there are bad individuals in that area that are criminals and there are undercover operations going on in those areas, that's what needs coordination and timing. In fact, I think your viewers will remember when we had the serial shooters, it was a task force of Phoenix police and Mesa police going into Mesa, coordinated, working together, notifying everybody, and actually staking out the areas and working together to get them. That protected the safety of the officers and ensured the capture of those criminals.

Ted Simons:
Did the sheriff's office in the past provide the kinds of notification you would like to see, or has it always been the case that when the sheriff goes in for whatever crime suppression operation he wants to do in the past, prior to illegal immigration being such a hot topic, is had always you finding out later as opposed to sooner?

Phil Gordon:
Actually it is really puzzling and concerning to the chief and myself, is that in the past the operations, whether they were going after warrants, whether it was other undercover sheriff's agents, deputies, there was not only notification but working with, backing up each other. In fact, I think you'll remember when there was the prison riot a couple of years ago, when Phoenix police went in to rescue the guards and the prison officers and also to quell the riot, it was the coordination with the sheriff's people, and, in fact, notified the sheriff's people what we were doing at their request. Those operations have been coordinated. Our teams were out there, there was coordination, so it is more than notification. It is coordination and working with. Notification is not working together. That's what at best other agencies do across the country. What has worked well here in this valley with the federal and the local and the state police is that we work together. We train together. We back up each other together.

Ted Simons:
And yet the sheriff says, and has said repeatedly, all he is doing is enforcing the law, and much of the public seems to think he is doing a good thing.

Phil Gordon:
Well, again, one, the determination as to whether he is enforcing the law or actually himself violating by targeting individuals that are browned skin and racial profiling, going into areas and arresting 30, 40, 50 people and they're all brown skin, it is hard for me as a layperson not to see that that isn't racial profiling. But let's assume for purposes of discussion what he said that it isn't, the issue still becomes an allocation of resources and an endangerment of the community. Number one, if you are not coordinating, then not only are you endangering the other police officers that there are police officers and his -- and his posse and federal agents, but also the community at large, because by him announcing press conferences in advance, if he is enforcing laws, there is another agency in that valley that will announce in advance of an operation, if you are going after criminals breaking laws, I'm going to have my command center here, this is where we are, and we're going to arrest you. What happens? The criminals go away. Number two, people are so terrified that they won't testify, they won't notify Phoenix police about other crimes going on, serious crimes.

Ted Simons:
Why do you think so many people support these sweeps?

Phil Gordon:
People are frustrated with the lack of action by the federal government whose job it has been since we were founded as a country to secure our borders and the responsibility of immigration control. And as a result of their inaction over the decades, it has gotten out of control, and our borders are porous. Hundreds of millions of dollars spending on unproven technology, on fences that are already torn down, as opposed to hiring border agents, hiring security and enforcing that border, which would then prevent this frustration from rising. People have now turned to the local governments to say we want you to do something. We want to send a message to congress. Well, by band-aiding and piecemealing, you may be sending a message, but that message is congress you don't have to act anymore. Sherriff Arpaio is going to take care of for the entire country, or Phoenix is or Albuquerque is. It's impossible. Plus we're diverting necessary resources to go after felons and criminals. We can't take these officers off the street to do the job of the federal government.

Ted Simons:
And yet the sheriff says about you, the bottom line is he doesn't want me to enforce immigration laws. Is he wrong?

Phil Gordon:
He absolutely knows that he is wrong. Phoenix and the city of phoenix not only enforce more immigration laws, arrested more illegal immigrants, five times, ten times as many as the sheriff's department has, in conjunction with ICE. We're the only agency in the country that has ICE embedded in our Phoenix Police Department. With DPS, going after those operations that are smuggling individuals in, smuggling drugs in, terrorizing individuals. In the last year alone, there have been over 2,000 people taken into custody and turned over to ICE that were at drop houses, 10,000 individuals over the last couple of years that have been arrested for felonies, being illegal and committing crimes. What I don't understand again the allocation of resources that are needed to go after smuglers, not individuals that are walking on the street that are looking for work or, two, targeting a whole population within a community, but rather not going after the criminals, but secondly is why don't we take those resources and go after the criminals, even those illegals that are already there with warrants and secondly, if we are going to do this, then why not take our resources and work with the federal government in a program that will go after the operations.

Ted Simons:
We only have about 30 seconds left, from the police order issue, to the tough tenor of debate here, would you change anything that you've done?

Phil Gordon:
Probably would have spoken up earlier, because you can see the fear in the eyes of American citizens and residents and children when individuals tell a marine, and this was witnessed by KTAR. and similar incidents, and this particular sign was held up in front of American, Mexican citizens, American descent, Mexican descent, and the marine was told I wish you would have died fighting in Afghanistan. We are bringing the extreme elements to a point where it is endangering the safety of the community and the officers and giving an image to this city and Valley and state that isn't what we're about.

Ted Simons:
All right. Mayor, thank you so much for joining us.

Phil Gordon: Thank you very much.

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