#JusticeinPimaCounty: Week 89
¡Feliz día de la Independencia de Mexico! The bells have been ringing out downtown, and at lunch we were treated to Mariachi Aguilitas de Davis Elementary right outside the building in our historic courthouse. They are so young and so very talented, that it put a smile on all of downtown after another long week.
Some weeks ago, I invited the newly formed Pima-Tucson Flowing Wells Business and Neighborhood Coalition to the office and spent two hours with them listening to their concerns about the conditions of our streets and neighborhoods. Last night that group held a townhall at the Ellie Towne Flowing Wells Community Center. I chose not to take any time at the microphone, preferring to listen for over two hours to neighbors and business owners, so I could fully understand their plight. I did however hand out a two-sided flyer, and I would like you all to have that information as well.
September 15, 2022, Flowing Wells
To: All interested parties
From: Your Pima County Attorney, Laura Conover
A few weeks ago, I invited the founders of this Pima-Tucson-Flowing Wells Coalition to come to the Pima County Attorney’s Office to help us understand what you are experiencing. I did not bring just any staff, but I brought with me the Chief of my Community Protection Bureau which oversees all of Property and Narcotics Crime. And, I brought data. I will always, always bring data.
I spent nearly two hours with the group so I could listen, watch videos, review photos, and hear stories about how this very real issue on our streets is making life and business so difficult. At that time, I mostly listened and learned. I am sorry so many in our City are suffering. And I am sorry for how deeply it is affecting you.
Since that meeting, I have met with the Tucson Metro Chamber, the President of the Hispanic Chamber, ALTO on behalf of their client Walgreens, and conducted another Saturday police ride along with TPD. On weeknights and weekends, I am out LISTENING, and we are here tonight again taking notes.
WE CAN ALWAYS IMPROVE COMMUNICATION
The message about how my office has been dealing with personal drug possession has been legitimately confusing due to Covid. The previous County Attorney stopped prosecuting drug possession in 2020. I resumed charging, but then for a period of time when Covid spread inside the jail, I stopped prosecutions as well, out of concern for the health and safety of those incarcerated, law enforcement, and medical workers. We resumed prosecuting personal drug possession in March of 2022, but we hear that some law enforcement officers are saying they don’t arrest because we won’t prosecute. My hope is that this misinformation is the product of honest confusion. Please PROFESSIONALLY let any officer know that the County Attorney MOST DEFINITELY IS accepting drug charges and moving people into court where accountability will occur. This is a continuous process. If the same person is arrested multiple times, the accountability and leverage increases to motivate people to treatment. It’s exhausting, difficult work, but we need to process each separate case to make progress.
WE CANNOT LOSE SIGHT OF HUMANITY
The world continues to suffer from the last two years of sickness, loss, and angst. These are human beings living out their misery in public. When I embrace the name “People’s Attorney,” it’s in part because as a career attorney I don’t live in the Foothills or Oro Valley, I live right here with you, south of Broadway, as does my 71-year-old mom. I haven’t seen our city look like this in many years. It’s not ok. I am committed to being the best partner I can be.
DATA ON OFFENSES AND PROSECUTION
The data since Jan. 1, 2020, for the charges listed below shows that PCAO has been presented with 9,128 cases – a combination of felonies and misdemeanors – and issued charges on 7,239 of those for an issuing rate of 79.3 percent. Critical point: the overall long historic rate at PCAO, and the national rate hovers around 44%-48% of charging cases brought to prosecutor’s offices, and this near 80% rate on these types of cases I believe is the result of a law enforcement and PCAO dedicated mission on this particular crisis on our streets in 2022.
|Organized Retail Theft/Felony||699||486||69.54%||213|
|Dangerous Drug Poss.||1579||1047||66.31%||532|
|Narcotic Drug Poss.||1321||843||63.82%||478|