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Maricopa Police Department

A motorist stopped for allegedly driving erratically was booked into jail after police discovered two unpaid warrants in his name.

Stephen Richards was observed driving about 11:15 a.m. on June 20 on West Maricopa Casa Grande Highway, according to a police report. He was told by an officer he would be issued a citation for his driving behavior, police said.

Subsequently, two confirmed warrants came back for Richards, who was arrested by police.

Police provided payment information to Richard’s girlfriend, identified as Jasmine Honeycutt, but she was unable to settle the amounts owed on the warrants, police said.

Richards was booked into Pinal County Jail on the warrants, police said.

According to Pinal County’s online inmate search, Richards is no longer being held at the facility.

Tanner Rogers Maricopa
Tanner Rogers, 33, of Maricopa was charged with domestic assault after an incident Tuesday at his Rancho Mirage home, police said.

A Maricopa man is facing domestic violence charges after his arrest Tuesday.

Tanner Rogers, 33, was charged with domestic assault after a physical altercation occurred between Rogers and his wife when he was caught cheating, police said.

Officers responded to a home on West La Paz Street in Rancho Mirage after a 12-year-old child called to report hearing mom and dad fighting, and mom saying, “Get off of me,” according to police.

On scene, officers made contact with Rogers who was in the process of packing his belongings into a vehicle. Rogers told police that after his wife caught him having an affair by finding out he was sending nude photos, they had an argument. Rogers said he held his wife by her shoulders to prevent her from leaving so he could explain himself. He claimed she tripped during the exchange and he landed on top of her, police said.

Police reported observing red marks around his wife’s neck. She told police she had caught her husband sending nude photos to women on his phone earlier in the day and told him to be out of the house by the time she got home from work. When she arrived back home and Rogers had not left, she avoided conversation with him. He allegedly tackled her into the bathtub, police said.

Rogers allegedly wrapped his hands around the woman’s neck and began choking her before she escaped his grasp, according to the police report. Running to the living room with her phone in hand, Roger allegedly picked her up and threw her to the floor, causing rug burns on the woman’s elbows, according to police.

Rogers was arrested and booked into Pinal County Jail, police said.

Maricopa protest
Protesters hold signs as traffic passes Monday night on John Wayne Parkway. Dozens and dozens of motorists honked horns and yelled words of support. Photo by Bob McGovern

They carried signs and they were going to be heard.

The 30-or-so people who joined together Monday night on the sidewalk at John Wayne Parkway and West Edison Road, near the IHOP restaurant, chanted “No justice, no peace” to support the Black Lives Matter movement.

Earlier coverage: NAACP urges residents: Stay home from ‘protest’ tonight

The peaceful hour-long gathering, coming after days of protest and unrest in cities across the nation in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police, was boosted by dozens of vehicles and a Shamrock Farms tanker truck passing by, their occupants honking horns and screaming their support to the sidewalk.

One black sedan drove by with a BLM sign. A few minutes later, a pickup truck roared past, a Trump 2020 flag held out from the passenger window.

Many in the crowd, composed mostly of young men and women, screamed through face masks and held their handwritten signs high with vinyl gloves. Many declined to be interviewed by the media.

The signs read: “I cannot breathe,” “Count others more significant than yourselves” and “We the People Say Black Lives Matter.” One sign held by a woman had 18 names on it, all people of color who died in incidents with law enforcement, with the words “no conviction” next to each name.

Van Cooper Jr., 34, a Maricopa resident and special education teacher in Tempe, said he wanted to take part in a peaceful protest.

People need to spend less time on hatred, he said. But the problem with law enforcement’s treatment of African American men is real, he said.

“It’s been going on for years,” Cooper said, mentioning Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old African American shot to death in February 2012 by George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida. “It’s sad that it takes a video for people to see what is going on.”

Steve Stahl Henry Wade Kneel
Maricopa police Chief Steve Stahl puts his arm around Councilmember Henry Wade Jr., at center, as they symbolically kneel with others on the sidewalk during Monday night’s protest. Photo by Bob McGovern

The protest started a couple minutes before 7 p.m., with police gathered 50 yards away in the IHOP parking lot. A half-hour later, Maricopa police Chief Steve Stahl walked out to join the crowd, saying hello to some, bumping elbows with others. At one point he joined City Councilmember Henry Wade Jr. and others in a symbolic gesture, getting down on one knee to remember the reason they were all there. Floyd died after a Minneapolis officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes. The scene was captured on video by a passerby.

“This is just a segment of Maricopa that wants to come out, be heard,” Stahl said. “It’s what I’m supposed to do, listen.”

Stahl said he had seen the video of Floyd’s arrest by four officers in the Minnesota capital, and disgust was in his voice.

“It is one of the more horrific acts of violence that I have ever seen, and I condemn what I saw,” he said shortly after the rally had broken up. “I’ve talked to our police officers in Maricopa, they feel the same way. This is not what law enforcement is representative of.”

One de facto leader, DJ Kali of Maricopa, a youth coordinator for the NAACP, said he attended to lend support and make sure everybody was safe. As darkness crept in, he thanked the crowd on the sidewalk for its support. “You don’t have to be black to love black,” he told them, before encouraging everybody to respect the 8 p.m. curfew.

Maricopa protest Black Lives Matter
Protesters hold signs during Monday night’s gathering on the sidewalk near the IHOP restaurant at the Edison Pointe shopping center. Photo by Bob McGovern

The protesters left as they came – peacefully. They could be heard planning two gatherings on Tuesday – one on the same corner in the morning and another at City Hall in the evening for a City Council meeting.

Earlier in the day, the NAACP of Pinal County had urged residents not to participate in the event after a flyer began circulating on social media.

“The Pinal County NAACP has not been able to confirm that this is a legitimate gathering or whom the organizers are,” said the statement, signed by Constance Hunsberger Jackson, chapter president and city resident. “We have seen reports of nefarious characters of ill intent who seek to sow division during these troubling times all over the county. In an effort to keep our community safe we are asking people to stay home and not participate in this event.”

Maricopa Police Department vehicles sit in the parking lot of the IHOP restaurant around 5:30 p.m. Monday. A flyer circulating on social media promoted a protest near the restaurant at 7 p.m. today. Photo by Kyle Norby

The NAACP of Pinal County is urging residents not to participate in a “day of community support for the Black Lives Matter movement and the ongoing revolution” planned for 7 tonight in Maricopa.

A flyer circulated on social media promotes gatherings tonight and at 8 a.m. Tuesday at the corner of John Wayne Parkway and West Edison Road near the IHOP restaurant.

Headlined “SUPPORT EDUCATE DONATE,” it reads: “We will walk up the main street on public property and pass out handouts of resources for people to educate themselves and donate to others.” The flyer, which reminds participants to practice social distancing and wear face masks, does not include the word “protest.” No organizing body is mentioned on the flyer.

In a statement posted on Facebook late Monday afternoon, the NAACP asked people to stay home from the event, which it called a protest.

“The Pinal County NAACP has not been able to confirm that this is a legitimate gathering or whom the organizers are,” said the statement, signed by Constance Hunsberger Jackson, chapter president and city resident. “We have seen reports of nefarious characters of ill intent who seek to sow division during these troubling times all over the county. In an effort to keep our community safe we are asking people to stay home and not participate in this event.”

The legitimacy of the event could not be independently confirmed by InMaricopa.

There was a small police presence at the IHOP on Monday evening 90 minutes before the event was scheduled to take place. The restaurant remains closed from the stay at home order to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The NAACP is planning its own solidarity event and said more details are forthcoming. It also offered some advice to those considering joining a protest.

“Please know we support any efforts at peaceful protest, so please be sure if you so choose to attend any protest: research and know the organizers, stay safe at all times, make sure you have ID with you, and know your rights.

“Please take care of yourselves and others,” the organization said.

The Maricopa Police Department sent out a tweet that linked to the NAACP’s Facebook post.

Curfew begins in Arizona after recent violence

Quiet first night of statewide curfew in Maricopa, Pinal

Police told InMaricopa they are not releasing any further information.

The state is under a week-long curfew that began Sunday night. It was part of a Declaration of Emergency declared by Gov. Doug Ducey in an effort to prevent the looting and violence seen in Phoenix and other U.S. cities in recent days.

The curfew, in effect daily from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m., is set to expire on June 8.

Ducey tweeted Sunday afternoon that he was taking action at the request of local leaders and in coordination with state and local law enforcement.

This is a developing story.

Police lights

In an effort to prevent the looting and violence seen in other Phoenix and other U.S. cities in recent days, the state of Arizona is under a week-long curfew as part of a Declaration of Emergency.

The curfew began at 8 p.m. Sunday and will be in effect daily until 5 a.m. It is set to expire June 8 at 5 a.m.

Gov. Doug Ducey tweeted Sunday afternoon that he was taking action at the request of local leaders and in coordination with state and local law enforcement.

“This gives law enforcement an additional tool to prevent the lawlessness we’ve seen here and in cities nationwide,” Ducey announced on Twitter. “Police will be equipped to make arrests of individuals who are planning to riot, loot or cause damage and unrest.”

Ducey’s declaration authorizes an expanded mobilization of the National Guard to protect life and property.

“Our office will continue to communicate with local law enforcement to provide whatever resources we can,” Ducey said.

Maricopa Mayor Christian Price said he understood the action by the governor to ensure readiness and provide the necessary tools to protect people and property.

“It’s best to be prepared,” he said late Sunday afternoon, “but I hope it it is not necessary.”

Price said he believed Maricopans would rise above such lawlessness because of “that civility we’ve always been known for.”

One Maricopa city council member, however, said the curfew was heavy-handed.

”The curfew does not require any business or function to shut down,” said Vincent Manfredi. “I see this as an overreaction at the state level because individual cities which have been impacted by rioting refused to act.”

The curfew prohibits congregating or traveling on public streets and at public places, but there are exemptions, including for law enforcement, firefighters, paramedics or other medical personnel,  National Guard, as well as any other emergency response personnel authorized by the State of Arizona, and credentialed members of the media.

Also exempted are individuals traveling directly to and from work; attending religious services; commercial trucking and delivery services; obtaining food; caring for a family member, friend, or animal; patronizing or operating private businesses; seeking medical care or fleeing dangerous circumstances; and travel for any of the above services.

In cities nationwide on Saturday, peaceful protests over the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis then became violent. In New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Philadelphia and Phoenix, rioters clashed with police. Businesses were vandalized and looted and buildings set afire.

Protests continued Sunday in many cities, including Minneapolis and Washington, where people gathered in a park just a block from the White House. According to TV news reports, looting continued in Philadelphia on Sunday evening.

Earlier Sunday, Ducey released a statement commending law enforcement officers from the Arizona Department of Public Safety, Phoenix Police Department, the National Guard and supporting agencies involved in protecting downtown Phoenix and major targets, like freeways.

“One thing is clear: The more aggressive approach downtown was needed, and it worked,” Ducey said in his statement. “Now, more needs to be done, in more places around the state, to protect law and order and public safety. The looting and violence we saw last night, especially in Scottsdale, simply cannot be tolerated. And it won’t be. Destruction of property does not qualify as freedom of expression.”

Video posted on social media showed people vandalizing and looting stores at the Scottsdale Fashion Square on Saturday night. At least 12 people were arrested, according to multiple media reports.

In Maricopa on Saturday night, police tweeted out their usual reminder for residents to lock up cars and close garage doors, but there was no report of any large-scale protest or violence.

“What we are seeing is happening in cities and states everywhere in America, and Arizona leaders need to be on high alert,” Ducey’s statement continued. “They need a plan. Today should be a working day for every local elected leader, city manager, police chief and sheriff in every jurisdiction in the state.

“The death of George Floyd is tragic and abhorrent. It should be condemned by leaders at all levels ⁠— and we should listen to those who seek to have a civil dialogue on how to ensure it never happens again. In Arizona, we will listen ⁠— and this was demonstrated by the leadership DPS Colonel Heston Silbert displayed on Thursday night as he engaged with protesters at the Capitol. This kind of leadership from law enforcement, working with community leaders, will get us through. But we cannot, and will not stand for violence, looting, and criminal activity.”

One group in Phoenix was moving up their protest walk by an hour to respect the curfew.

The Inclusive People’s Organization had planned to march from North Fifth Avenue to the headquarters of the Phoenix Police Department, beginning at 6 p.m. In a tweet, the organization said it was moving up the peaceful protest to 5 p.m., saying that “starting earlier lessens the risks and give participants more time to safely find transportation before 8PM.”

Disclosure: Vincent Manfredi is minority owner of InMaricopa.

Codey Foy charges
Codey Foy, 43, faces new criminal charges after Friday's incident, according to Maricopa police. Photo: Pinal County Jail

Codey Foy, the defendant on bail from charges of aggravated assault and endangerment after a police manhunt in Tortosa on May 8, is facing new criminal charges.

Foy, 43, was arrested about 7 p.m. Friday and charged with prohibited possession of a firearm, disorderly conduct, unlawful discharge of a weapon and related charges, according to Maricopa police.

Officers had responded Friday to Foy’s ex-girlfriend’s home on North Toledo Avenue in Tortosa, after the woman’s neighbor called police to report a disturbance.

On scene, the ex-girlfriend, identified as Jennifer Drown, told police that Foy became upset when she wouldn’t let him drive her vehicle to the store, because he is on medication, police said.

Drown said Foy allegedly began throwing things in the garage and threatening to go to the home of the U.S. border agent who shot him in the left hand during the May 8 manhunt to ask him why he shot him, according to the statement of probable cause.

Drown also told police that on May 14 Foy allegedly discharged a firearm on her back porch, and showed officers where the bullet struck the patio and ricocheted into the back of the home, police said.

Foy told police the weapon discharge was accidental, occurring when a silver 9mm Derringer fell and struck the patio while he was taking off his boots, police said. Foy said the hammer on the gun was faulty, causing it to fire.

Foy allegedly admitted to officers that he was prohibited from possessing firearms, but said he had to carry the gun for protection. He told police he had since discarded the weapon, but it has yet to be recovered, the probable cause statement indicated.

In the May 8 incident, Foy sustained a non-life-threatening wound in the hand after he was shot by an off-duty border agent while police searched for him in the Tortosa neighborhood.

Foy had been wanted in connection with a stolen truck earlier in the day, and Pinal County Sheriff’s Office had issued a “be on the lookout” notice.  When a report of a man matching Foy’s description came in that afternoon, personnel from the Maricopa Police Department and Pinal County Sheriff’s Office descended on the development, closing off traffic from Honeycutt Road at the roundabout by Santa Cruz Elementary. For hours, authorities searched door to door, calling in a Department of Public Safety helicopter, but Foy could not be found until after 6 p.m.

Foy was shot near a home on Picasso Street, taken into custody and transported to a local hospital for treatment of his injuries. The border patrol agent involved was unharmed, authorities said. Foy, who had previous warrants out for his arrest, according to authorities, was released on bail after charges stemming from that incident.

He was being held without bail at Pinal County Jail after Friday’s arrest pending a preliminary hearing scheduled for today on the latest charges, according to court records.

Martin R Robles (PCSO)

A Maricopa man faces drug charges after he was arrested April 30 by police.

Martin Robles, 26, was charged with transporting marijuana for sale, and possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia after a traffic stop, according to police.

Police said they stopped Robles around midnight on West Honeycutt Avenue because his vehicle did not have a valid license plate. When officers approached the vehicle, they detected a strong odor of marijuana coming from the vehicle. Martin said he did not have a medical marijuana card, police said.

During a probable cause search of Martin’s vehicle, police found about 110 grams of marijuana, a scale and a grinder. They also discovered two smaller packages of marijuana made to appear as though it was store-bought, and numerous empty medical marijuana-style plastic baggies, police said.

Also found was a roll of blank prescription marijuana sticker labels and drug paraphernalia, including cigar blunts and rolling papers, as well as $240 in cash and another small baggie of marijuana in the center console of the vehicle, police said.

Robles was arrested and booked into Pinal County Jail.

Reynaldo Lopez
Reynaldo Lopez of West Paitilla Lane in Maricopa is charged with domestic violence assault in a May 2 incident, police said.

A Maricopa man was arrested May 2 and charged with domestic violence assault.

Reynaldo Lopez, 31, of West Paitilla Lane in Acacia Crossing, had a verbal argument with his six-months-pregnant girlfriend that turned “physical” at their home, which they share with another child, according to police.

The woman told police the argument began when Lopez called her a bad mother and raised relationship issues. She also claimed Lopez pushed her against the wall and threatened to kill her, according to police reports.

Lopez allegedly pushed the woman into a television in their bedroom, knocking it over, and attempted to take her cellphone away when she tried to call 911, police said. Officers observed an abrasion on the inside of her right arm as well as a small laceration on her thumb and knuckle, police said.

When questioned by officers, Lopez allegedly stated his girlfriend got into his face and made him angry, resulting in him throwing the television to the ground, according to police. He also said he never tried to take her phone.

Due to conflicting stories from Lopez and his girlfriend, and a lack of witnesses to the argument, police said they arrested Lopez as the alleged aggressor based on the woman’s injuries.

Reynaldo Lopez was booked into Pinal County Jail, authorities said.

The rider of an ATV involved in an accident Thursday night was actually injured in a collision with a car. 

He was identified by Maricopa police as Arturo Bandin.  

Despite earlier reports, police now say the all-terrain vehicle collided with a Honda Civic on Honeycutt Road at the entrance to Glennwilde about 7:30 p.m. Thursday. They believe Bandin was under the influence of alcohol before the collision.   

According to police, in the minutes before the crash, they received a report that Bandin had left his home in an impaired state. During a search for him, officers were interviewing family members at a home on Pershing Avenue when a report of an ATV crash came in.  

At the scene, a female driver of the Civic and her male passenger told police they were heading west on Honeycutt Road and attempted to turn into the Glennwilde subdivision when the ATV, allegedly traveling at a high rate of speed without its headlights on, collided with their car. 

The driver reported she saw the ATV too late to react, police said. 

Police, who recognized Bandin from previous contacts, found him conscious at the scene and able to answer basic questions. He was bleeding from his head and limbs, police said. 

In the incident report, an officer wrote that “due to concerns over COVID-19 I avoided getting too close to Arturo’s mouth and face so I was not able to determine if there was an odor of an intoxicating beverage.” 

Bandin allegedly told police that he had not come from home, but was going from one friend’s house to another. According to police, Bandin’s father told them his son had drunk “way too much” prior to leaving on the ATV.

Bandin was taken to Chandler Regional Medical Center for treatment of his injuries. He was subsequently taken into custody by a deputy U.S. marshal on a federal warrant. Results of blood tests on the DUI charges are still pending, authorities said. 

 

Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Maricopa Fire/Medical Department
Chief Brady Leffler
520-494-2307
Brady.Leffler@Maricopa-AZ.gov
Administration Office
45654 W. Edison Road
Mail: 39700 W. Civic Center Plaza
520-568-3333
Maricopa-AZ.gov/departments/fire-and-medical-department

Fire Station 571 (Homestead)
20945 N. Porter Road

Fire Station 572 (Sorrento)
36930 W. Bowlin Road

Fire Station 574 (Alterra)
44925 W. Alterra Parkway

Fire Station 575 (Acacia Crossings)
45695 W. Edison Road


Ak-Chin Fire Department
Chief Cecil Peters
45401 W. Farrell Road
520-568-1300


North Hidden Valley Fire Department
53510 W. McDavid Road
602-571-1059


Thunderbird Fire District
12365 N. Ralston Road
520-251-3122


Maricopa Police Department
Chief Steve Stahl
Steve.Stahl@Maricopa-AZ.gov
Emergency: 911
Dispatch: 520-568-3673
Administration: 520-316-6800
Maricopa-AZ.gov/departments/police-department

Main Station
39675 W. Civic Center Plaza South

Copper Sky Substation
17985 N. Greythorne Drive


Ak-Chin Police Department
Chief Manuel W. Garcia
45525 W. Farrell Road
520-568-1200


Pinal County Sheriff’s Office
Sheriff Mark Lamb
520-866-5111
PinalCountyAZ.gov/Sheriff

Adult Detention Center
971 Jason Lopez Circle, Florence
855-355-0358

PCSO Search & Rescue
971 Jason Lopez Circle, Florence
520-866-5111

PCSO Stanfield Substation
36697 W. Papago Drive
520-866-7991


Banner Casa Grande Medical Center – Emergency Room
1800 E. Florence Blvd, Casa Grande
520-381-6300
BannerHealth.com/Locations/Casa-Grande/Banner-Casa-Grande-Medical-Center

Chandler Regional Medical Center – Emergency Room
1955 W. Frye Road, Chandler
480-728-3000
DignityHealth.org/Arizona/Locations/ChandlerRegional

 

Maricopa Police Officer Ajay Wilson on patrol. Photo by Mason Callejas

By Pamela Crabajales

He loves the movie “Top Gun.”

He’d love to be Dale Earnhardt Jr. for a day.

He enjoys outdoor activities including camping, hunting and fishing.

He also comes from Snohomish, a blue-collar city in Washington that can be a bit cold and rainy 350 days a year.

But from 9 o’clock at night to 7 in the morning, he is Officer Wilson.

Ajay Wilson, 23, has served as a police officer for the Maricopa Police Department since June 2015.

He recognizes his grandfathers as main contributors to his pursuit of a career in law enforcement. One of his grandfathers was in law enforcement in Seattle and the other a firefighter for 28 years.

Wilson moved to Arizona at the age of 13 and attended Queen Creek High School. He was on path to college with a golf scholarship but lost interest in the sport and chose to take the road less traveled – the police academy.

OFFICER WILSON’S ADVICE TO YOUTH:
What factors should students consider when entering a law enforcement career? Students should consider the dangerous aspects of law enforcement, but realize the rewards outweigh the risks.
What traits do you feel are necessary to become a police officer? You have to be willing to learn, and to fail. Messing up on the job is how you become better if you can learn from your mistakes.
What type of education is needed to become a police officer? GED or high school diploma, and The Police Academy.
What advice can you give to prospective students wanting to enter the field? You just have to realize that you will be in the public view at all times, and that you need to make smart decisions.
What college decisions or steps should one make in order to be successful in the path for this field? All I can say is work hard to get there. Just because you fail at something doesn’t mean to give up. Don’t give up.

Enrolling at 20, Wilson was sworn into the line of duty at 21. The responsibility of being a public servant includes working the long hours. For Wilson, a 10-hour shift four days a week has been his schedule the past year or so.

“I work graveyard, and it’s odd hours. Most normal people work the 9 to 5 shift,” he said. “In law enforcement you sacrifice a lot more than people realize. Working the odd hours is tough.”

Although the hours aren’t entirely his favorite, there is never a dull moment when it comes to being a police officer.

“In law enforcement [you] just never know what’s going to happen,” he said. “For patrol, [we] respond to calls for service. That can be for anything. You know, one minute you can be doing nothing, and the next you get really busy.”

The workload doesn’t stop the officer from enjoying what he does.

“I love my job,” Wilson said. “The fact that I can, everyday, go to work and have the chance to have an influence on someone’s life, or [make an] impact on their life. It’s nice to have that opportunity to be that influential person in someone’s life.”

The start of Wilson’s career as a police officer was something that hit him harder than any previous job. It opened his eyes to the rest of the world that most people were oblivious to, or for some, chose to block out. As someone whose duty is to protect and serve the citizens of the community, officers aren’t able to choose what they respond to.

“It was a culture shock,” he recalled. “A lot of the stuff that I was seeing was new to me. I grew up in a very close family [with] good family values. I see many people who are in bad situations and in a way I’m able to use my experiences to help that someone out.”

It may be the gratification knowing that this individual is making a difference in someone’s life, but for Wilson, it’s what keeps him coming back to the job knowing the dangerous and threatening situations he is exposed to.

The job may come with many rewards, but, unfortunately, it comes with negative aspects, too. For public servants, at times controversies arise.

Society is always looking at law enforcement under a microscope. When asked about the current situations involving law enforcement, Wilson replied, “It’s sad to know that every profession has bad apples. Everybody is criticizing what we do. It’s sad that some people target us, but it doesn’t stop me from doing my job. I wear my [body] camera, and all my stuff is put on video. You have to be very careful. You cannot abuse the public’s trust.”

Wilson then added, “I don’t see a skin color when I show up to a house, I see a person.”


Pamela Crabajales is a journalism student at Maricopa High School.

This story appears in the January issue of InMaricopa.

Photo by Mason Callejas
Photo by Mason Callejas

Miguel Figueroa Sr. (PCSO photo)

A Maricopa man has been charged with killing his wife, Olivia Cecelia Julian Figueroa, with a sword.

Miguel Figueroa, 45, was arrested Saturday night. He was booked on charges of first-degree murder, aggravated assault and misconduct involving a weapon.

Residents of Maricopa Meadows first reported screaming to the Maricopa Police Department just after 6:30 p.m. One caller said a woman was in the bed of a Dodge pickup calling for help. MPD was unable to find the truck.

At 7:21 p.m., MPD received a call from Figueroa’s son, who said his father had assaulted him and pointed a gun at his mother while they were sitting in the pickup truck. At around 8 p.m., Figueroa’s daughter told MPD her father called her and told her he had killed their mother Olivia and left her in the desert.

Police located Figueroa at a residence near Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway and John Wayne Parkway. According to the report, he was standing outside the residence “with a sword in hand and his clothing covered in blood.”

Police reported Figueroa was shouting “kill me, kill me” and “I killed her in the desert.” After he dropped the sword, he was taken into custody. According to the report, Figueroa allegedly told his mother he had killed Olivia by stabbing her multiple times.

The Dodge truck was found in a desert area near Garvey Avenue and Roosevelt Avenue. The body of Olivia Figueroa, 43, was then found more than 100 feet away with multiple wounds to the chest and arms.

The incident is being investigated by the MPD Criminal Investigation Unit. The cause of death will be determined by the Pinal County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Figueroa’s bond is set at $750,000 on the assault charge. He has arraignment hearings set for Dec. 15 and Dec. 20. He had previous arrests in Pinal County on charges of possessing drug paraphernalia, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and aggravated robbery.

According to court records, the couple married in 2000.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to those that are affected by this tragic event which led to the loss of their loved one,” MPD Chief Steve Stahl said. “Domestic violence is a continuing cause for concern within the City of Maricopa as well as throughout the country which will take everyone’s awareness and assistance to eliminate. The Maricopa Police Department continues to provide training, resources and partnerships to our officers and Victims Assistance personal in the on-going effort to end domestic violence crimes and break the cycle of violence.  I commend the first responding officers in their courage and restraint while taking Mr. Figueroa into custody without further loss of life.”

The Maricopa Police Department honored its own with an annual award ceremony. The Maricopa Police Foundation hosted the dinner at Province Nov. 5.

Officer of the Year: Kevin Mellor
Sergeant of the Year: Joshua Paulsen
Civilian Employee of the Year: Kimberly Clark
Volunteer of the Year: Libby Pedrazzani
Explorer of the Year: Ethan Griffin

In addition, meritorious service coins were presented to Commander James Hughes, Officer Chris Evans, IT Peder Thygesen and IT Thomas Brannon.

Guest speaker at the ceremony was FBI Special Agent in Charge Michael DeLeon.

Maricopa Police Chief Steve Stahl has tried to be a catalyst for change during his four years on the job. Photo by Jake Johnson

By Katie Mayer

A little more than 19 years into Maricopa Police Chief Steve Stahl’s law enforcement career, he grew disenchanted and planned to retire once he hit the 20-year mark.

At the time, Stahl was a commander with the Mesa Police Department, where morale had dipped and he didn’t see a whole lot of growth potential.

But then a new chief stepped in. Former Los Angeles Police Department Assistant Chief George Gascón brought big city-crime-fighting techniques, strong leadership and a heavy helping of hope to a department that so greatly needed it.

“When Chief Gascón came in, I said ‘I’m going to give this chief six months and see if he reinvigorates me,’” Stahl recalled.

It was worth the wait. Gascón’s leadership inspired Stahl to remain in his profession and set him on a trajectory to become the chief he is today.

“He reinvigorated what leadership should be and reignited that passion for police work,” Stahl said.

Stahl decided to stay – and many would say it’s a good thing he did. Because today – like the leader who once inspired him – Stahl has been the catalyst for change in a department that appeared to have lost its way. Through accountability, leadership and a strong vision, Stahl has boosted the morale of his rank-and-file, reduced crime and connected deeply with the community he serves.
chief-coffee_3-12
February marked four years Stahl has served as Maricopa’s police chief. In that time, he is credited with forming broader and deeper bonds with the community, bringing world-class training and resources to his police officers, reducing Part I crimes and providing better support for victims of domestic violence.

“I think in every aspect of what he does as a police chief, he pursues the ideal of excellence,” said Maricopa City Manager Gregory Rose. “I think that permeates throughout the rest of the police department.”

Stahl’s commitment to hard work was instilled in him early. Born in the 1,200-resident town of Redfield, South Dakota, Stahl grew up on a farm and ranch where “you worked until everything is done.” School was held in a single K-12 classroom and the nearest city was 25 miles away.

“That work ethic was drilled into me early on,” Stahl said.

After graduating from South Dakota State University, Stahl managed a water bed store and fitness center. One summer, he visited some family in Arizona and “enjoyed the heck out of” himself.

“I picked up a Sunday paper and noticed one of the leading waterbed companies was hiring,” Stahl recalled. “I interviewed and flew back home…seven days later I’m in Arizona.”

Soon, he got to know his next-door neighbor, who was a Tempe police officer. The neighbor encouraged him to consider a career in law enforcement.

“I applied at Tempe and Mesa,” Stahl said, “and Mesa called first.”

During his time with the Mesa Police Department, Stahl worked in nearly every area of the department. He credits former Mesa Police Chief Frank Milstead with encouraging him to branch out.

“He taught me all the jobs you have are not going to be glamorous,” Stahl said.

At first, this was a tough pill to swallow for Stahl, who had spent 15 years on the Mesa Police Department’s action-packed SWAT team.

“He also gave me those opportunities that put a glimmer in my mind that ‘Can I be chief?’ and ‘Do I want to be a chief?” Stahl said. “I would’ve never been ready otherwise.”

Like his own police chief in Mesa, Stahl stepped into a department in 2011 in need of leadership. The department had just gone through two external audits and morale was low.

In his new role, Stahl formed a vision statement, articulated his high expectations to officers and invested in their training and equipment.

“When I came here, you could tell in briefings and ride-alongs that they craved that leadership,” Stahl said. “And it wasn’t hard to (turn things around) because they are professionals.”
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He added, “Those who did what they needed to do stayed and those who didn’t went away.”

And while working on internal matters, Stahl also placed an emphasis on customer service in Maricopa. As part of his vision statement he required the officers to “make every contact excellent.” He also rolled out community engagement events such as “Coffee with the Chief,” where residents could come and have some face time with Stahl.

Chris Hashisaki, community manager at CCMC at Tortosa, said the customer service has been visible to her residents.

“I do think they are becoming more successful about creating that personal relationship with the citizens and police departments,” Hashisaki said. “We are a little ways out here, but we still get the patrol and recognition definitely from the police department and him.”

And the business community has taken notice as well.

Ace Hardware owner Mike Richey calls Stahl one of the “premier civil servants in the community.”

“I think the department clearly reflects his confidence,” Richey said. “When you’ve got somebody at the top that projects himself in the community the way Chief Stahl does, it’s a trickle-down effect – everything starts at the top.”

Although Stahl makes leadership look easy, his four years have not been without challenges. In January, an Army veteran’s widow sued the city and two police officers over the 2015 fatal shooting of her husband, who had contacted police two days earlier to talk about his post-traumatic stress disorder.

While the department has declined to talk about pending litigation, Mike Kemery, commander of the VFW, said he has been happy with Stahl and his leadership.

“One day he stopped in around lunch time at the Veterans Center, and we talked for an hour,” Kemery said. “He has been very attentive to whatever group he might be with, and he takes an interest.”

Photo by Jake Johnson
Photo by Jake Johnson

Kemery said he and his veteran victim advocate colleague have been called out to situations in the community involving veterans and have worked with police to help the veterans obtain resources.

“From a veteran’s point of view, this town is keenly aware of the veterans and they do take an interest and Chief Stahl leads the charge,” Kemery said.

Also, during a time when police departments across the country have been accused of racial bias, Maricopa Police Department has not been immune. Last year, when Maricopa police responded to a report of a jogger pushed down by an attacker described as a “black teenage male,” the department faced some scrutiny after questioning black teenagers in connection with the crime.

However, Stahl, a member of the NAACP, said he and his officers have never faced any problems related to racism and remain engaged with the black community and work closely with a civilian advisory board consisting of diverse residents of Maricopa.

“The great thing is we all have on-body cameras,” Stahl said, “so even the suspect can come in and we handle it right then and there.”

Stahl is now looking forward to even greater changes in the future, most notably, Maricopa joining the Regional Wireless Cooperative and the department taking over its own dispatching on May 5. The change means officers can now have radios reception in other parts of Arizona and communicate with other police departments.

Stahl is also working to train and promote his staff so that some day when he makes the decision to retire, there is leadership available to step up and take over.

“When I leave, if you have to look externally for a chief, then I have not done my job,” Stahl said.

Rose said he supports the chief as he prepares for the future, but hopes “he is here for a very long time.”

Although being chief means Stahl has largely sacrificed time with his wife and family, and his beloved tee times are nearly impossible to squeeze into his schedule, he calls the job “one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had in my career” and said he is “blessed to be here.”

“When I walk the hallway and do ride-alongs with officers and see the light in their eyes, it reminds me of the first time I pinned the badge on,” Stahl said. “It’s all about them, not about me.”


This story appeared in the April issue of InMaricopa.

A fifth grader with a so-called "kill list" at Legacy Traditional School sparked a debate about communication policy among parents.

A purported “kill list” naming eight fifth graders at Legacy Traditional School upset parents in more ways than the obvious.

The list apparently was found March 31 in the possession of a male child during class. What happened after that has been a bone of contention.

According to one of the children whose name was on the list, she was sitting near the accused boy when another child noticed the list on his desk. It named six girls and two boys.

“I think it’s pretty mean,” she said. “You don’t know what they could do.”

She said the substitute teacher scolded the child and initially threw away the paper. The students retrieved the paper, she said, and when encountering their regular classroom teacher later in the day, showed her the note.

That is when the note went to the administration and the students targeted by the list were allowed to call their parents, she said.

Other parents, however, were upset to learn about the incident “through the grapevine” instead of directly from the school.

“This is supposed to be a zero-tolerance school,” said Jay Hall, whose child attends Legacy but was not named on the list. “I shouldn’t have had to find out about it at a ballgame. We heard he was suspended, but we should know when he comes back to school.”

Hall said the accused child’s father had spoken with other parents to try to assuage fears, but he said the school itself should have been more open with parents.

The Maricopa administrators have been unable to speak about the incident to the public, citing confidentiality of students and faculty, but a district administrator is encouraging all concerned parents to give him a call.

Bill Bressler, chief academic officer for the Legacy district, said when such a threat arises on a campus, it is policy that contact is made with the child threatened and his or her guardian. As for parents of children whose names were not on the list, not informing them was “my call.”

“There was no need to disrupt the climate of a highly functioning school,” Bressler said.

Bressler said the incident happened on a Thursday, and he was informed of it the following Monday. He said the accused child faced “consequences for infractions.”

School Resource Officer Jeff Pokrant of the Maricopa Police Department met with students and their parents to investigate the situation. MPD spokesman Ricardo Alvarado said no charges were filed and it was not a criminal case.

“The parents were contacted, and the school took disciplinary action,” he said.

The mother of one of the children on the list said she is pressing charges and said the school should have done more to inform parents.

“Why aren’t they telling anybody?” she asked. “I’m concerned we were not informed.”

Despite rumors of access to weapons, MPD determined the accused child had no way of carrying out a threat.

Still, at least one child on the list remains nervous about being in public places.

“I don’t know why he put me on the list,” she said. “I never teased him at all.”

She said she is “50-50” about forgiving her classmate. “I only want to make sure he gets help,” she said.

Parents concerned about the incident or school policy can contact Bressler at 480-270-5438.

Residents, elected officials, police and fire personnel and many others attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Maricopa Police Department substation at Copper Sky. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Maricopa Police Department put its new substation on display for a ribbon-cutting event Tuesday. It is not fully open, yet. In fact, it’s not fully complete, at least as far as the police chief is concerned.

More than being a police presence south of the Union Pacific Railroad tracks, the substation is the communication center for police and fire. It will use the new tower next to the Public Works fleet maintenance facility on Edison Road.

Mayor Christian Price drew attention to the Edison Road communications tower, which will allow the city to end outsourcing of its emergency feeds. “Now we’re going to be able to bring that home,” he said. “And this just helps speed things up and ultimately helps each and every one of you.

“But if we’d opened this building prior to opening up that tower, what use would it have been in that respect?”

MPD is moving into the substation, but it is not expected to be a full operation until May.

Budgeted for $4 million, the substation funds did not stretch as far as Chief Steve Stahl wanted. He pushed to get more technology.

“I think any of the law enforcement leaders in the audience will tell you, technology is at the forefront of our thoughts all the time – how can we be smarter, how can we be wiser, how can we fight crime better but not harder,” Stahl said at Tuesday’s ceremony. “That is through technology.”

Ak-Chin Indian Community kicked in $450,000 to help add technology and electronics. Chairman Robert Miguel said it was just another example in the long history of Ak-Chin and the city of Maricopa working together on mutually beneficial projects.

“We always help each other out in providing services in the best way possible,” Miguel said. He called Ak-Chin support of the substation “automatic.”

Even with the Ak-Chin aid, the substation does not have everything originally envisioned. It’s smaller, for one thing, and the police chief plans for that to change.

Stahl said the design had to “be able to be built upon in years to come and look like, when it was done, that it was all built at the same time. That was my task to the architect.”

That architect was Joseph Salvatore of Architekton in Tempe. He also designed the Copper Sky Multigenerational Center, which won the 2014 facility award from the Arizona Parks and Recreation Association. The substation shares several architectural elements with that neighboring facility.

Salvatore said he was particularly pleased with the building’s aspect after dark, calling the entrance porch “spectacular” at nighttime.

“It’s such a welcoming look and feel that draws people in and brings people to the police so they can have that dialogue,” Salvatore said. “That’s the key.”

He said he also wanted to create “exciting spaces” for employees, and used interesting angles to create visual value.

“This is the very first time we’ve done that,” Salvatore said. “Dispatch is in here 24/7 and they need something special. And with the natural light we have coming in here, that enlivens the space as well.”

The building was constructed by CORE Construction, which also built Copper Sky Multigenerational Center and the fleet maintenance building.

“It’s wonderful that we’re able to extend our public safety portion of our operations south of the tracks,” City Manager Gregory Rose said. “None of this would have been possible without the leadership of our mayor and council. Without their willingness to allocate funds and set aside funds and really be committed to the project, it simply doesn’t happen.”

Copper Sky Maricopa Police Substation. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

The ribbon will be cut on the new police substation at Copper Sky, the Maricopa Music Circle will perform its annua spring concert, comedian Faizon Love will be on stage, residents can look at plans for a new Palo Verde Regional Park, and much more is happening this week in Maricopa. For details on these and other events, or to add your own, visit InMaricopa.com/Calendar.

MONDAY

Maricopa Planning & Zoning Commission meeting is at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 39700 W. Civic Center Plaza. Among the agenda items is a Planned Area Development at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church.

A Ray of Hope meeting of Narcotics Anonymous is at 7 p.m. at 44977 W. Hathaway Ave. (enter through door on right side of building)

TUESDAY

Coffee with Friends of the Maricopa Library is at 1:30 p.m. at Maricopa Public Library, 41600 W. Smith-Enke Road. Meet every Tuesday for refreshments and conversation and get acquainted with the library. All ages welcome.

Copper Sky Police Substation Grand Opening is at 5:30 p.m. with a tour of the building housing the new communications center, 17985 N. Greythorne Drive

WEDNESDAY

Maricopa Unified School District Governing Board meeting is at 6:30 p.m. at MUSD District Office, 44150 W. Maricopa-Casa Grande Hwy.

THURSDAY

Open House on proposed Palo Verde Regional Park is from 4:30 to 7 p.m. at Copper Sky Multigenerational Center in multipurpose room A, 44345 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

A Ray of Hope meeting of Narcotics Anonymous is at 7 p.m. at Ak-Chin Social Services, 48227 W. Farrell Road.

SATURDAY

Picacho Peak Day Hike starts from Copper Sky Multigenerational Center, 44345 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., at 8 a.m. and returns at 6 p.m. This trip is for age 18 and up. Fee is $10 for Maricopa residents and $12 for nonresidents.

Maricopa Music Circle Spring Concert, “Dancing into Spring,” is at 7 p.m. at UltraStar Multi-tainment Center, Theater 2, 16000 N. Maricopa Road, with accompanying performances from Desert Sun Performing Arts.

DT Comedy Show featuring comedian/actor Faizon Love is at 7 p.m. and 9:15 pm. in Theater 1 at UltraStar Multi-tainment Center, 16000 N. Maricopa Road.

Two men who died in an altercation in an Alterra neighborhood Saturday have been identified, and Maricopa Police Department is calling it a domestic dispute.

Tony Shakir, 38, is suspected of killing Randy Phillips, 49, and then turning the gun on himself after a five-hour standoff with police.

According to MPD spokesman Ricardo Alvarado, there had been a dispute between Shakir and his ex-wife at the Windrose Drive property. When her friend Phillips tried to intervene he was shot “multiple times at close range.”

MPD was called to the scene when the gun shots were heard in the neighborhood around 4:30 p.m. When officers arrive, Shakir’s ex-wife and her two children left the house, and she explained to them what had happened. Shakir then barricaded himself in the home.

Alvarado said after telephone contact was lost with Shakir, the Department of Public Safety SWAT team entered the home at 11:30 p.m. and found Shakir dead in the garage. A handgun was recovered at the scene.

Phillips’s body was found in the family room.

The ex-wife told MPD there was a history of domestic violence between her and Shakir, but it was not reported to police because she feared for her safety.

“Before incidents like these escalate, victims of domestic violence can come forward and seek help from law enforcement and we can put them in touch with services that can help,” Chief Steve Stahl said.

The Maricopa Police Department has not released the names of two men who were shot to death Saturday in an Alterra neighborhood.

Officers were called to a home in the 45000 block of West Windrose Drive on a report of shots fired around 4:23 p.m.

A male had been shot and a woman with two children were inside the home with the alleged shooter. After officers set up a perimeter, the woman and children ran out of the house, according the MPD spokesman Stephen Judd.

MPD began negotiating with the suspect and evacuating nearby homes. A SWAT team from the Department of Public Safety also responded.

Judd said the standoff lasted five hours.

At 11:30 p.m., the suspect was found in the garage, dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. Officers recovered a handgun. The first male that was shot was found dead in a family room from multiple gunshot wounds.

The investigation is ongoing.

 

DPS bomb squad brought in its robot to neutralize a suspicious package at the Maricopa Post Office. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

A low battery in a Bluetooth speaker that had been disposed of in a trash can outside the Maricopa Post Office made suspicious noises that resulted in a bomb squad being called in.

Hathaway Avenue was closed for several hours while the Department of Public Safety Bomb Squad sent in a robot to use blasting caps and destroy the unit.

The call came in from a Post Office customer at 9:26 this morning. She described a ticking noise coming from the trash can at a front corner outside. A postal employee and a Maricopa Police officer determined there was a ticking or thumping noise coming from the trash can.

The postmaster general in Washington, D.C., contacted MPD, and the six employees working at the Post Office were evacuated.

MPD spokesman Ricardo Alvarado said businesses in the area were given the option of evacuating or not. Some closed for several hours because traffic could not access their buildings. Hathaway was closed from State Route 347 to Wilson.

After the bomb squad blew up the package wrapped in black, it was impossible to see if there was an identifying name or address. There was enough left to determine it was Bluetooth speaker.

Alvarado said because the battery was dying it creating a thumping noise that was amplified by the dome shape of the trash can lid.

Thefts from vehicles are on the rise in Maricopa. The Maricopa Police Department is offering these crime-prevention tips:

  1. Always park your vehicle in a locked garage.
  2. Always lock the doors, even when you are away from the vehicle for a short time.
  3. Remove all valuables from your vehicle. If you can’t take personal property with you, lock items in the trunk. Do not place them under the seat. This includes your purse or wallet, navigation device, CDs, books, cash, keys, cell phone, iPod, laptop, garage door opener, gym bag, briefcase, jewelry, tools, packages, etc. If a thief breaks into your vehicle and steals your garage door opener and keys, they have access to your home.
  4. Do not leave ANY mail in your vehicle. These items have your name, address and possible contain personal financial information.
  5. Remove “pull out” style stereos and/or removable face plates of stereos.
  6. Park in well-lit areas. At home, park your vehicle near porch lights. If you cannot park in a garage, install motion detection lights which will illuminate your driveway at night.
  7. Set all alarms or anti-theft devices.
  8. If you see anything suspicious, call MPD’s non-emergency line at 520-568-3673.

The wife of the late Johnathan Guillory is suing Maricopa and Officer Joshua Hawksworth (center) and Sgt. Leonard Perez (right) for wrongful death.

Alleging that Maricopa Police Department’s own aggressive behavior resulted in the death of a local veteran, Johnathan Guillory’s widow has filed a wrongful death suit in federal court.

The suit names Sgt. Leonard Perez and Officer Joshua Hawksworth, who shot Guillory on Jan. 18, 2015. It also names their spouses and unidentified others. A notice of claim was filed with the city, Mayor Christian Price and the named defendants in July.

The actual complaint, with demand for a jury trial, was filed in Arizona District Court on Jan. 16, just within one year of the shooting.

Attorneys David and Kathryn Lunn of Scottsdale filed the suit on behalf of Maria Garcia and Guillory’s four children. In a demand for punitive damages, they called the officers’ action “willful, malicious, oppressive and/or reckless and it was done with an evil hand.”

Garcia disputes MPD’s claim that Guillory had a weapon at the time of the incident. MPD has stated the officers feared for their lives and fired on Guillory “as trained to do.”

That police training is a central point of the lawsuit. It alleges MPD did not properly train its officers to deal with such confrontations and in fact condoned excessive force and reckless behavior by its officers.

The city does not comment on pending litigation.

Guillory was a U.S. Army veteran. He returned from his second tour in Afghanistan in 2003. He was reportedly diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Garcia is also a veteran. She met Guillory in 2005, and they married in 2008. He had two children from a previous relationship.

Before Guillory’s death, MPD had already responded to emergency and non-emergency calls at the Guillory home on Garden Lane in Cobblestone Farms. He also had previous arrests involving drugs and alcohol.

The suit claims MPD had asked the community’s assistance in training officers in how to deal with subjects with PTSD, and just days before the incident Guillory went to the department to help the effort.

Then that Sunday afternoon, a 911 call apparently from Guillory’s cell phone was relayed to MPD but the caller hung up. Several police vehicles responded to the scene.

According to both the suit and police reports, Guillory walked out of his garage, away from his home and down the street toward a common area. Dispute arises over whether officers saw a weapon or an object that looked like a weapon and over Guillory’s behavior toward the officers. Police say a handgun was recovered at the scene.

He walked toward Hawksworth, who told him to “Stop walking.” What Guillory did then is a point of disagreement. No report indicated Guillory fired on the officers. Both Hawksworth and Perez shot Guillory. He was struck in the torso four times and died an hour later.

Attorneys claim in the suit, “Even though the officers knew of Johnathon’s PTSD and had been informed to approach with caution, they stormed the neighborhood, surrounded Johnathon, followed him, yelled at him, had their weapons loaded and raised, and treated him like a criminal.”

Bob Klein needed five staples to close a laceration on his head after an altercation at the dog park. Submitted

Police are seeking a man who allegedly pushed a 72-year-old man to the ground at the Copper Sky Dog Park in an altercation Saturday.

Dr. Bob Klein of the Villages was walking a small dog in the dog park at around 10:30 a.m. Two small children, reportedly against Klein’s warning, approached to pet the dog, which then nipped at them.

Maricopa Police Department spokesman Ricardo Alvarado said that led to an argument between Klein and an adult male accompanying the children. The argument ended with Klein being shoved down and hitting his head on the concrete, causing a laceration at the back of his head.

The suspect then left with the children.

Though Alvarado said Klein refused medical treatment at the scene, he later went to Chandler Regional Medical Center, where the wound apparently required five staples.

Klein’s wife Colleen was shopping in Chandler at the time of the incident but told him to go to the hospital in case he had a concussion. She said her husband described the suspect as a white man in his 30s or 40s, 6-foot-2 to 6-foot-3, and 240 pounds. He had several tattoos on his neck including “111.”

Medical staff determined Klein did not have a concussion. But his family wants the suspect apprehended.

His son put out a plea on YouTube.

A city sign posted at the entry to the park warns that dogs may behave unpredictably around small children and asks adults, “Please do not bring children under the age of 12 into the dog park.”

Colleen Klein said that is what escalated the argument between her husband and the man with the small children.

Anyone with information on the identity of the suspect is asked to call Maricopa Police Department, 520-568-3673.

A portion of the sign at the Copper Sky Dog Park.
A portion of the sign at the Copper Sky Dog Park.

Police recruits gather at Maricopa High School to start the physical test during MPD training Saturday. Photo by Craig Cummins

By Craig Cummins

Dressed in gym shorts and sweats, dozens of hopefuls came to Maricopa High School today to take their first steps toward becoming the first rookies sworn into the Maricopa Police Department.

The department, which was started back in 2007, has traditionally hired police officers that already had experience in law enforcement.

“It took the department six months to become operational and we needed experienced officers to help mold the department,” said Ricky Alvarado, the department’s public information officer.

This is the second round of testing for new officers in the last year for the department. The first round ending with the potential hiring of one officer who is currently attending a post-certified police academy.

More than 50 recruits showed up to MHS’s track to take their physical fitness evaluation, known as the Cooper Standards.

The Cooper Standards is a three-part test and is a preliminary requirement for recruits and consists of a 1.5-mile run in under 15 minutes, 29 sit-ups in under one minute and 25 consecutive push-ups without a time limit.

While delivering a pre-test speech to the recruits, Maricopa Police Chief Steve Stahl said, “As you go through this process today, there are several things that are going to happen. Obviously the first thing is this physical conditioning part, to make sure that you are of the proper physical condition to make it through the academy.

“For us here today, we’re testing you at everything. We’re watching how you dialogue with each other; we’re watching whether you support one another,” Stahl added.

Competition was tough on the track, with many of the recruits coming from backgrounds or experience close-knit to law enforcement.

One such recruit, Michael Martinez, 26, from Casa Grande, comes from a family with a history in law enforcement, including his father who has served in numerous departments across the state. Martinez himself works in corrections at the Eloy Detention Center and is looking to make the transition into a traditional police department.

“I’m trying to make a difference and see some change within the industry of what policing is,” said recruit JB Smith, 28. He is no stranger to the strict guidelines and physical standards of the Maricopa Police Department, having served active duty in the U.S. Navy, which included a deployment to Iraq.

Currently the department is looking to hire two or three new officers, meaning only the best of candidates will make it through. And while the candidates are technically in competition with one another, praises of encouragement and camaraderie were constantly heard among the hopeful future officers as they ran their laps and proved they physically had what it takes.

The physical fitness test is only the first part of a long process towards becoming an officer. After completing the physical fitness test, the recruits who passed headed to Maricopa City Hall to take a written test, which will end the first day of testing.

“The written test is mainly reading comprehension,” Alvarado said. “There are some scenario-based law enforcement questions, but nothing a reasonable person couldn’t answer. We don’t expect them to be cops yet.”

The recruits who make it through the physical and written tests will later go through a long series of interviews and background checks before they are even given the opportunity to attend an academy. While many will not make it, those who do may one day dawn the uniform of a Maricopa Police officer.

Closing his speech to the recruits, Stahl said, “You all are the cutting edge of America today. Be proud you made the first step, showing up. That’s the first step of anything – showing up.”

MPD seeks to educate residents

Photo by Devin Carson

By Michelle Chance

Serious crime in January was down 2 percent compared to last January, Maricopa Police Chief Steve Stahl said, while all other crime decreased by 12 percent during the comparison period.

“Two percent is actually only one crime, so while one may sound insignificant, it’s one less victim out there on the street,” Stahl said during an interview at the Maricopa Police Department.

According to Stahl, more serious crimes, referred to as “Part 1 crime” by the police, include offenses like homicide, sexual assaults, and aggravated assaults. Examples of “Part 2” crimes are disorderly conduct, DUI and simple assaults.

Property crime is the biggest crime trend in Maricopa, Stahl said. Burglaries were up last month compared to January 2015. Stahl said stolen vehicles and theft from vehicles usually can be easily prevented.

“I know it’s a simple thing, but don’t park your car in the street,” Stahl said. “Park it in the driveway if you can. The best solution is to park it in your garage.”

Stahl said he and his officers work to educate the public on crime prevention during HOA meetings and during the monthly event, Coffee with the Chief, in which the public is encouraged to discuss their concerns about the department with Stahl.

It’s about communication with the public, Stahl said. “We are their guardians. If they do not trust you, you are not going to be a guardian; you are just going to be an enforcer and that is not the direction we want to be.”

Police Commander Gerald Kaphing joined the department in January and said he noticed citizens’ positive responses during public outreach events.

“They go out of their way to tell me they love their chief and what a great job the officers are doing,” Kaphing said.

In addition to promoting public awareness, Stahl said another component to crime prevention is a free house watch program run by MPD volunteers. The program is designed for citizens who go out of town for a period of time. Maricopa residents interested in the service can visit the city website for more information.

The MPD, along with City Manager Gregory Rose, are also looking into implementing surveillance cameras in high-crime areas within the city to assist the department in crime prevention. “The city manager is very supportive of it if we can find grant funding for those things,” Stahl said.

Overall, the chief said his goal for future crime prevention begins with educating youth in the community.

On May 9, the MPD Police Athletic League visited Maricopa Wells Middle School to “increase positive interaction between police officers and those who are highly impressionable,” Stahl said.

The PAL program is comprised of officers who not only offer recreational exercise for the students, but educational topics are discussed as well, according to Ricardo Alvarado, public information officer for MPD.

“There will be a component of education that will give information to the youth to make sure they make good decisions, because the decisions they make now will obviously carry on in the future for them,” Alvarado said.

Desert Wind Middle School, Maricopa High School and Sequoia Pathways have also partnered with the PAL program, Alvarado said.

A local youth was taken to Chandler Regional Medical Center with minor injuries after being slashed with a pocket knife during a fight at Maricopa’s Copper Sky Skate Park Thursday afternoon.

According to Maricopa Police Department spokesman Colt Homan, an altercation began between two 16-year-olds in the skate park, and one pulled out a pocket knife and slashed the other.

Both teens were transported to Chandler Regional Medical Center with minor injuries. The slashing victim received a cut, and the suspect had minor scrapes due to the scuffle.

The suspect was taken to a juvenile facility and booked on an aggravated assault charge.

Rumors of the incident’s origin began circulating Maricopa, but Homan clarified the incident was simply a fight between teenagers.

“Rumors of there being a drug deal were false,” Homan said. “This was just a quarrel.”

Domestic violence is a focal point for the Maricopa Police Department.

One of the Maricopa Police Department’s focuses is to limit and prevent domestic violence.

According to MPD Sgt. Leonard Perez, the department tries to prevent domestic violence before it occurs, but also holds violators accountable when it happens.

“We have to address the underlining problem because you can’t arrest away your problems,” Perez said. “We like to address prevention before it happens, and we like to focus on domestic violence.”

Over the last week, three Maricopa residents were arrested for domestic violence incidents.

On Wednesday, Jan. 27, Jonah Walker and Misty Rivers were arrested for a domestic altercation. According to the police report, the couple began a verbal argument when Rivers became upset with Walker, and the dispute resulted in both parties receiving minor injuries.

According to the police report, “After making contact with both Jonah and Misty it was discovered Misty was the primary aggressor in the situation by escalating the verbal argument into a physical assault leaving scratch marks on (Walker’s) face. Misty had red marks and scratches on her face along with a bloody nose.”

Walker reportedly hit Rivers with an open hand out of self defense. Rivers then fled to a neighbor’s house, and both individuals were arrested near their home on Sheridan Road.

Walker was accused of assault per domestic violence for “going beyond the point of self-defense,” and Rivers was accused of assault per domestic violence for being the “primary aggressor.”

On Thursday, Jan. 28, MPD officers responded to another domestic violence call. David Haycraft was arrested, accused of aggravated domestic violence and assault after reportedly biting a woman who was trying to have him evicted.

According to the police report, “[The victim] said they began to argue, and the argument became heated and she was pointing her index finger at David as she yelled. She said David lunged at her and tried to bite her finger and when she pulled away, David lunged again and grabbed her and bit her in the face on the left cheek.”

Haycraft reportedly has a history of domestic violence and was booked on aggravated domestic violence and assault.

Sgt. Leonard Perez talks about fighting crime in Maricopa in this week's Spotlight interview.

Sgt. Leonard Perez of the Maricopa Police Department stopped by our InMaricopa Studio to discuss the current state of public safety in the city and how it will improve with the opening of the substation at Copper Sky Multigenerational Complex.

Like all cities, Maricopa has crime. The areas of focus for the MPD are traffic and driving conditions along State Route 347, youth crime prevention, domestic abuse and theft. However, MPD takes a proactive approach to prevent crime before it happens.

“The biggest thing is to address the underlying problem,” Perez said. “You can’t arrest away your problems. The 347 is always a challenge. There are other problems we’d like to address before they happen.”

The department has developed Community Action Teams (CAT) to combat the issues. Perez believes the Copper Sky substation opening soon will showcase the department’s transparency and allow Maricopa residents to be more comfortable addressing officers with questions and concerns.

“Being on the south end of the city allows those residents to have that direct contact with us,” Perez said. “It just creates a great bond with them, and it lets them know we are human and approachable.”

The new Copper Sky substation will also serve as a dispatch center and communications hub for the Maricopa Police Department.

This was a busy year for the Maricopa Police and Fire Departments. From tragedies to celebrations, the men and women who keep Maricopa safe had their hands full in 2015.

10. Officer Daniel Rauch named Officer of the Year

Over the last year, Officer Rauch has been an active patrol officer, was selected to represent MPD by working in a detail with the U.S. Marshal’s Office and Tempe Police Department, and was the test subject for both the MPD on-body camera program and license plate reader program. He is described by his superiors as an “Energizer bunny,” and his work with members of the community is unparalleled.

“He has this uncanny ability to talk to people,” Maricopa Police Chief Steve Stahl said. “Whether he’s giving a citation or bringing someone to jail, people walk away enjoying their time with him.”

9. Pinal County Drug Smuggling Arrests

Throughout 2015, the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office, MPD and Border Patrol have arrested and deported dozens of drug and contraband smugglers attempting to pass through Maricopa. One such incident in early December saw 14 arrests over five days capture 1,382 pounds of marijuana. The smuggling issue is likely to remain a hot-button issue throughout 2016 as well.

“The fact that our deputies can arrest 14 smugglers, seize over 1,300 pounds of marijuana, assault weapons and sophisticated radios from the Mexican drug cartels, in Pinal County, in just five days, should be a wake- up call to everyone that the border is not secure,” Sheriff Paul Babeu said.

8. MPD Receives CALEA Accreditation

The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies is a national organization that provides accreditation to law enforcement agencies when departments demonstrate a consistent adherence to “best-practice standards.”

According to a statement released by MPD in April, MPD earned its accreditation by maintaining professional excellence in terms of written directives, procedures, management decisions, preparedness, accountability, liability and risk exposure and relationship with the community.

7. PCSO Arrests 3 in Child Murder

A week before Thanksgiving, 3-year-old Tiana Capps died from blunt force trauma that occurred in an unincorporated neighborhood south of Maricopa. After investigating the death and the home situation, on Christmas Eve, Pinal County Sheriff’s personnel arrested her caretaker Shawn Main on charges of murder and abuse. They also arrested Tiana’s mother Tina Morse and a third woman, Maria Tiglao, on suspicion of abuse of four children.

Tiana’s three brothers, aged 5 months to 5 years, were removed from the home.

6. Train Hits MUSD School Bus

The Arizona Department of Transportation named the railroad crossing on State Route 347 one of the most dangerous in the state. However, members of the community saw just how dangerous the crossing is when a freight train collided with a Maricopa Unified School District bus on Nov. 5.

The accident was the realization of many residents’ worst fear for the crossing. Luckily, no children were on the bus and the driver was able to escape.

5. Body Cameras

MPD was one of the first departments in Arizona to test the use of body cameras. For months, MPD officers wore AXON body cameras from TASER Industries. The cameras were approved by the department and are now regularly used in the field.

“It’s the closest we can get to true justice,” Officer Daniel Rauch said. “By documenting the actual occurrence while it happens, we can go ahead and support ourselves in our decisions. It also documents if there’s any accusations of police overstepping their bounds, we can go and immediately pull the video so it can be viewed and released to (the accuser).”

4. Cars Crash into Lakes in Villages and Rancho Mirage

Two accidents involving vehicles driving into local lakes had very different endings. Jan. 12, a vehicle holding two female occupants drove into the lake inside the Rancho Mirage subdivision. Eileen Brown, 46, the vehicle’s passenger, was pulled from the vehicle after the driver, but she passed away at Chandler Regional Medical Center.

Sept. 9, a 59-year-old man lost control of his vehicle and launched into the lake in the Villages subdivision. The driver and his three passengers were pulled from the vehicle without serious injury. The accident was believed to be caused by a pre-existing medical condition.

3. Fatal Car Accidents

From July 26 to Aug. 23, three fatal accidents took the lives of four Maricopa residents. In each case, the deceased was not believed to be wearing a seat belt. The issue became so vital to the community Maricopa Police Chief Steve Stahl held a press conference with 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 to show a united front against unsafe driving.

In one of the cases, however, Antoinette Sanchez was indicted for manslaughter in the death of Heidi Johnson.

2. Veteran Killed in Police Confrontation

veteran-shootingIn January, Iraq War veteran Johnathon Guillory was killed in a confrontation with police after reportedly threatening two officers, Sgt. Leonard Perez and Officer Joshua Hawksworth, with a weapon in a residential area. The incident divided much of the community on whether the shooting was justified.

The incident was picked up by state and national news outlets as well, and the community heightened its interest in veteran services as Guillory was reported to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Maricopa, which has a population that is reportedly 10-percent veteran, Pinal County and state agencies campaigned to spread the word about programs for military veterans.

1. Double Murder Charged on Papago Road

Jose Valenzuela
Jose Valenzuela

The eyes of the nation again turned to Maricopa in late June when Thunderbird Farms residents Michael and Tina Careccia went missing. Days of searching for the couple resulted in numerous theories and garnered state and national news coverage. Their bodies were found on the property of family friend Jose Valenzuela.

Valenzuela was charged with two counts of first-degree murder by the Pinal County Attorney’s Office. Valenzuela pled not guilty to the charges in August. His trial is pending.

A Maricopa woman was jailed Dec. 8 by the Maricopa Police Department on accusations of aggravated assault, resisting arrest, aggravated assault per domestic violence and threatening per domestic violence.

According to the police report, MPD responded to a call on West Belle Avenue in Maricopa Meadows around 6 p.m. When officers arrived, Felicia Nasta’s daughter stated her mother was having an “episode” and threatened to “smash her nose into her brain,” according to the report. Nasta allegedly struck her daughter in the back of her head with an open hand when the daughter tried to walk away.

The daughter was reported to be “visibly upset, crying and shaking” when officers arrived, and she was checked out by Maricopa Fire Department personnel for dizziness and a headache resulting from the reported blow to the back of her head.

A second witness to the scene confirmed hearing the threats but did not see a physical altercation.

According to the police report, “While attempting to take [Nasta] into custody, the defendant bit an arresting officer on the back of the hand, leaving a small laceration.”

Nasta was transported to Chandler Regional Medical Center. After she was placed in custody, she admitted to ingesting “multiple pills,” according to the police report. Nasta said later she had taken her anxiety medication.

The Arizona Department of Child Safety was contacted after “consistent statements among the defendant’s children” demonstrated feelings of being unsafe around their mother, and growing concerns that she was becoming increasingly aggressive and verbally abusive.

Four of the six children were in the home were picked by their father, according to Nasta. The other two minors remained with Nasta’s current husband, who is their father, while Nasta was in Pinal County jail for two days.

Nasta said the domestic situation and accusations have been part of a custody battle with her ex-husband. She denied striking her daughter and said she is due in family court on Thursday.