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Maricopa Police Department

Parents mingle in front of MHS after a reported bomb threat. Photo by Adam Wolfe

Maricopa High School reported receiving a bomb threat this morning at 9 a.m. Information was sent out to parents at 10 a.m.

“There was a bomb threat,” Maricopa Police spokesman Ricardo Alvarado said. “The high school has been locked down. At this time, it is just the high school. Police are on the scene.”

Gates were locked, and no one was allowed in or out of the campus, though some parents gathered in the parking lot.

Around 11 a.m. students were ushered to the football field.

InMaricopa will report information as it becomes available.

Police sketch of a suspect in the attack on a jogger Tuesday morning. Courtesy MPD

A sketch of an unknown male who reportedly attacked a woman jogging in Maricopa Tuesday morning has been distributed by the Maricopa Police Department.

MPD has been going door to door looking for information and a lead to the suspect.

The woman was jogging near Bowlin Road and Alterra Parkway at around 6 a.m. when someone came up behind her and forced her to the ground. The woman told police she screamed and fought back, and the suspect fled. He was last seen near the Desert Cedars subdivision.

He is described as 5-foot-7 to 5-foot 9, black with a medium complexion, and wearing a grey shirt with pink sleeves and a backpack.

According to the MPD, they canvassed the neighborhood Tuesday with uniformed officers and plain-clothes detectives. In one hour, they spoke with five people of interest.

“The people spoken to were made aware of why the officers and detectives were in the area making contact with people.  The individuals contacted were from all races and ages; four adult males and one juvenile male,” Chief Steve Stahl reported. “During the consensual contact, the individuals were asked if a photograph could be taken of them. During any consensual stop, anyone has the right to not speak with officers or have their photograph taken. If during a consensual contact someone feels they are not comfortable with the line of questions or even the officer’s demeanor, they can request a police supervisor be present.  During this attempt to speak with individuals, no one was forced to be photographed or forced to answer questions.”

Anyone with information about this case is asked to call MPD at 520-568-3673 or anonymously on the tip line at 520-316-6900.

MPD is asking for information on an assault suspect in the Alterra subdivision.

A woman reported she was assaulted while jogging this morning near Maricopa Elementary School.

The incident took place just before 6 a.m. near Alterra Parkway and Bowlin Road. According to Maricopa Police Department spokesman Ricardo Alvarado, she described the suspect as a black teenager and between 5-foot-7 and 5-foot-9.

He was wearing a gray shirt with pink sleeves and carrying a backpack.

She said the suspect came up on her from behind and knocked her down, but she fought back and screamed, and he ran away.

MPD is asking anyone with information to call 520-568-3673 or the tip line at 520-316-6900 to remain anonymous.

A large gathering of law enforcement stood behind MPD Chief Steve Stahl during today's press conference. Photo by Adam Wolfe

By Adam Wolfe

In the last two weeks, two fatal accidents have occurred in Maricopa. In both occasions, the deceased was not wearing a seat belt.

Maricopa Police Chief Steve Stahl held a press conference today to address the recent tragedies and discuss driver safety issues heading into Labor Day weekend.

Stahl was accompanied by representatives from the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office, Pinal County Attorney’s Office, Ak-Chin Police Department, Gila River Police Department, Coolidge Police Department, Eloy Police Department, Apache Junction Police Department, Florence Police Department and the Department of Public Safety during the press conference. The large gathering was meant to show a united front and let local residents know who is there to protect them.

“The agencies behind me and the men and women who serve with these agencies will be out in force,” Stahl said. “I want to emphasize the fact that our primary responsibility is not to punish and not to write tickets. It is to remind people, through visibility and traffic stops and educational opportunities, to drive more safely.”

Stahl referred to the deaths of Nate Ford, 16, and Heidi Johnson, 53, in traffic crashes just a day apart.

“We will never know whether wearing a seat belt would’ve caused life to still be here today,” Stahl said. “We’re not here to throw blame or vilify anything. What we do know is seat belts do save lives. Seat belts are important. Teenagers watch what we model as adults. We need to model good driving behavior.”

Stahl made a point to emphasize the community’s role in keeping roadways safe.

Common issues seen by law enforcement include not wearing a seat belt, texting while driving and driving while under the influence. Stahl also stated alcohol is not the only thing to watch out for regarding DUIs. Drugs use play a large role as well.

“About 50 percent of our arrests involving impaired driving revolve around the use of prescription drugs,” Stahl said. “Those that use prescription drugs, please consult with your doctors to make sure that operating a motor vehicle is appropriate.”

Stahl closed with a simple statement: “The best way to model love to all our family members and loved ones is to remind them ‘driving is a serious event. We love you, and we want you to take that seriously.’”

An increased law enforcement presence will be on the roads and highways for the holiday weekend. The extra manpower and equipment is largely paid for by the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. Residents are urged to use extra caution regarding the increased amount of traffic that will be present.

Maricopa Police Department Public Information Officer Ricardo Alvarado demonstrates the capabilities of the department's new mobile app during "Coffee with the Chief" Saturday.

By Adam Wolfe

The Maricopa Police Department demonstrated its new mobile application during Saturday’s “Coffee with the Chief” at the Maricopa Police Station.

The mobile app will allow residents to keep up with MPD news and updates, as well as report crimes, contact certain departments and find a list of missing or wanted people in the community with ease and convenience. Residents will be able to report tips anonymously as well as provide their information if they choose to.

See video

“[Each report] will go to each individual on duty sergeant,” MPD public information officer Ricardo Alvarado said. “Once the communications center is up and running, it’ll all go to them. Each report will be followed up with within 72 hours.”

When submitting a report, residents will have the option to state whether the crime is an urgent matter or “suspicious activity.” All reports are welcome, but the department is discouraging repeated non-emergency reporting, especially by the same individual. Non-emergency tips will be followed up within 72 hours, but emergency situations will be handled first.

“We’re not going to discourage anyone from submitting reports, but we are going to discourage them from misusing it,” Alvarado said. “We want to know what’s going on, but we don’t expect you to state there is a car parked in the roadway and you want it removed right away. We definitely don’t want anyone sending that [repeatedly].”

The app is meant to create awareness among the community, as well as providing residents easy access to various departments of MPD. There is a directory available in the app, and each listing has a link for users to tap to make a phone call or send an email. Users will also be able to report tips on missing or wanted people, as well as keep track of press releases and community events.

“We’ll offer push notifications as well,” Alvarado said. “Every time something new changes that’s a pressing matter, you’ll get a [notification] letting you know. We don’t want to blow you up every time we add something new that’s not happening in real time.”

Alvarado also stated the application is meant to be a tool for the public, but it is not meant to replace people calling 911 in the event of an emergency. If an emergency situation arises, residents should still call 911 immediately.

Maricopa will be one of just three departments in the state with their own app. Tempe Police Department uses the same software for their app, and Mesa Police spent $40,000 to develop their own app in house. By using Cloud Space Mobile software, the app only cost the Maricopa department $3,600 and offers complete control of the content.

The app is expected to be available for free to the public during the first week of September on both Android and Apple iOS devices.

The app is considered another progressive step from the Maricopa Police Department, but Chief Steve Stahl added, “Don’t look at it while you’re driving.”

James Brandon Austin turned himself in Tuesday at his attorney's office. Submitted photo

A Maricopa man wanted on suspicion of domestic violence turned himself in today after a search of a Glennwilde neighborhood Monday.

According to the Maricopa Police Department, James Brandon Austin,34, went to his attorney’s office in Phoenix, where he was arrested at approximately 2 p.m.

“He is currently being processed and will be transported to the Pinal County Adult Detention Center and booked on several felony charges under the domestic violence statute,” MPD spokesman Ricardo Alvarado said.

MPD officers were called to a location on Porter Road around 4:30 p.m. Monday on a report of an aggravated assault. The address is listed as 18700 N. Porter Road, which is Leading Edge Academy. Officers later found the Nissan Cube belonging to Austin on a Glennwilde street and searched the area.

No one in the neighborhood reported seeing Austin, and MPD could not locate him until they were contacted Tuesday.

MPD released no more details about the case.