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Letter: Efforts against sexual assault in Tempe require vast improvement

Only about one in four sexual assaults committed in Arizona is ever solved by police.

According to the Oct. 20, 2014, State Press story, "We the Police: The relationship between Tempe and its protectors," by Emily Mahoney, “There were 62 total rapes reported to Tempe PD in all of 2013. From January to August 2014, there have been 61 rapes reported to Tempe PD, or a 125 percent increase from last year’s rate. Comparatively, looking at ASU police records, there were 14 sex crimes committed on campus at this time last year which were reported to police. So far in 2014, there have been seven.”

Tempe police records show there were only 47 reported sexual assaults in 2012.

Sex crimes are definitely on the rise and a serious crime problem in Tempe.

One attack in Tempe that hasn’t been solved by police is the brazen and savage attack by an unknown assailant on a 91-year-old woman in one of Tempe’s better neighborhoods.

According to a KTAR story, “The Tempe attack has now been linked to other attacks in the East Valley.”

A serial rapist will no doubt bring back memories of serial rapist and killer Mark Goudeau, who terrorized the Valley in 2005 and 2006 before he was finally captured. Goudeau was no stranger to the criminal justice system and had a lengthy record with multiple criminal justice agencies. Agencies still aren’t able to share information in a way that can identify and track sex crimes while linking the criminal behavior with past crimes with new crimes in real time.

In my March 2007, East Valley Tribune guest editorial, “Police officials make pleas for information sharing system,” I refer to a letter written by current Surprise Police Chief and then-acting Phoenix Police Chief Mike Frazier to former Gov. Janet Napolitano. In the letter, Frazier said, “The Phoenix Police Department made progress in solving two of the serial events that occurred in Phoenix in 2005 and 2006. I am extremely proud of the dedication and commitment that occurred. However, one has to wonder whether these episodes could have been solved, or even recognized as serial crimes, more efficiently if criminal justice entities had a system of information sharing?”

One can still wonder, because it’s been almost a decade since serial predators terrorized the Valley, and there still isn’t a system in place to put a quick end to serial criminals and their dangerous and terrifying crime sprees.

In my 2006 East Valley Tribune Sunday Perspective editorial, “Withholding information — To improve public safety, law enforcement agencies across the Valley must do a better job of sharing data and resources,” I wrote, “In 2004, Gov. Janet Napolitano appointed a committee of experts to develop a plan to address the investigation, collection and sharing of information and resources on violent crimes in Arizona. The panel developed a state-of-the-art program called Sex Crimes Analysis Network that was patterned after Washington state’s Homicide Information Tracking System. It was developed during the 1980s in response to serial killer Ted Bundy and the Green River serial killer. Arizona’s SCAN project died after the Arizona Department of Public Safety diverted its $400,000 in funding.”

One can only wonder if the rape of the 91-year-old Tempe grandmother might have been prevented had the SCAN system had been developed and put in place in 2004 and her attacker been identified early?

One can also wonder if authorities had heeded Chief Frazier’s 2007 words and advice and picked up where DPS failed and put SCAN online for Arizona police agencies? $400,000 dollars is not that much money when you consider how many millions the state Legislature gave away to a couple of county sheriffs with political agendas that trumped statewide law enforcement priorities.

One has to wonder how many more victims there will be before the attacker’s capture by police takes place?

Hopefully this tragic crime will reopen the discussion for the governor, Legislature and law enforcement to find the funding and implement the SCAN program as soon as possible.

Sexual assault and sexual violence are all too common in Tempe and throughout Arizona, and that makes it all the more reason to identify and capture sexual predators as soon as possible.


Bill Richardson

ASU class of 1974

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