Tuesday, August 12, 2008

AZ: City of Peoria AZ Police Department Fleecing our Pockets

The City of Peoria AZ Police Department has been unjustly taking money from citizen pockets for YEARS (see details below), but I only recently became aware of it when I became yet another victim of their so-called "false alarm" policy. You see, a burglar broke into my home late at night last November while we were out of town for a week enjoying the Thanksgiving Holiday. Hearing our burglar alarm sound, he or she ran away to find an easier target. The burglar was in such a hurry to get away he or she left our door wide open. My alarm company did the job I pay them to do, and called the City of Peoria AZ Police Department to notify them of the alarm event. The City of Peoria AZ Police Department then did the job I pay them to do (via the taxes I pay) & came out to investigate.

They arrived sometime after the criminal had already safely escaped, found the door wide open, searched for the criminal, found the place vacant, secured the door, left a note saying the door had been found wide open when they arrived but after searching they were not able to find the criminal nor any evidence of wrongdoing other than the wide open door, and left. That should have been the end of the story, but it turned out only to be the first step of the City of Peoria Arizona Citizen Victimization Plan (I made that name up - I presume the plan is named something far less scandalous, perhaps it is called something more pleasant like the City of Peoria Arizona Alarm Reduction Plan).

You see, like any normal governmental organization, the Peoria AZ PD thirsts for additional funds. Normal cities acquire their PD funds through something called taxation. The City of Peoria AZ Police department does receive revenue through taxation, but they also found another way to raise additional funds. I would call it the "lets pillage the pockets of our own citizens who have been targeted by burglars plan". That way burglar victims can be victimized twice, once by the burglar who illegally broke in and subsequently escaped without charges, then by the Police who did their job to investigate & then ASSUMED it was a false alarm even if the door is found wide open (Hello, door found wide open after we've been away for nearly a week should be a CLUE).

That's right ladies & gentlemen, our fine City of Peoria AZ Police Department ASSUMES you are guilty of having a false alarm if it was triggered in ANY way shape or form, unless they actually catch a perpetrator red handed OR you can prove it was not a false alarm. Guilty until you prove yourself innocent, that's the way it's supposed to be isn't it? Or is that only supposed to happen in places like China or Cuba?

I heard the standard Policy right from the horses mouth, Lt. Scrivens, a member of the City of Peoria AZ Chief or Police office who has been delegated the duty of reviewing requests to re-categorize false alarms that can be fined to actual alarms that can't be fined. When I explained the full situation to him he explained why he could not do as I asked & explained the standard policy to me in an e-mail:

. . . The Peoria Police Department responds to thousands of alarm calls each year. Ninety nine (99%) percent of all alarm calls are false alarms. Each alarm activation police receives requires a minimum of a two officer response and sometimes additional officers depending on the size of the building and the individual circumstances . . .

In review of your alarm appeals, there was no annotation of any suspicious or criminal activity associated with the activation. It is department policy to leave a door hanger to notify residents we have responded to their residence on an alarm call annotating if the house was secured, door found unlocked or open, etc. If any potential evidence or witness information at the scene can be developed of the alarm being set off by a criminal act, our policy is to initiate a written report and contact the home owner as soon as possible. This was not the case in your alarm activation so a door hanger was left . . .
When you boil the stated policy down, the policy of the City of Peoria AZ Police Department is that unless all of the following miracles take place simultaneously, they automatically ASSUME all alarms are a false alarm, victimizing burglar victims a second time, first by the criminal, then by the Police Department. This is what is required for us lowly citizens to PROVE we are not guilty of a false alarm event:
  1. The criminal that broke in must be seen illegally entering the premises by one or more eye witnesses (unlikely at late hours of the night as in the case of my alarm event).
  2. The witness must then ASSUME it was a criminal entering & not the owner or someone authorized by the owner.
  3. The witness must then be willing to go to the trouble of notifying Police to file an eye witness report of assumed criminal activity.
  4. Someone in the Police Department would then have to link the eye witness report to the alarm event & actually document the found link, after which someone in the PD would have to change the recorded alarm event from the assumed false state to a valid state.
It's no wonder our city has a 99% ASSUMED false alarm rate. It's a miracle that all of the above requirements manage to take place in 1% of the alarm events. I took a look at some of the past City of Peoria AZ Police Annual Reports & found that they are making some nice coin off the backs of the citizens they victimize by making the false alarm assumption in their current policy:

2003 & earlier - I failed to locate the annual reports - they may not be online.
2004: 4,700 alarms ASSUMED to be false. Citizens FLEECED to the tune of $59,000.00
2005: 3,700 alarms ASSUMED to be false. Citizens FLEECED to the tune of $69,000.00
2006: Assumed false alarm data not reported - did they forget or could they be hiding it?
2007: I was unable to locate the 2007 annual report - I don't know if I didn't find it or if it has not yet been created & placed online.

It is interesting to note that from 2004 to 2005 the number of alarms assumed to be false decreased by 1000 events, yet the revenue they fleeced from city citizens & businesses increased by $10,000.00. If you live in Peoria AZ, please contact the Peoria PD Community Relations Department at 623-773-7099 & your Peoria Council Member (see district map here) to ask that this unjust policy of guilty until you prove yourself innocent as well as the current policy of letting the Police Police themselves for alarm reviews be corrected. For an extra touch contact the Mayor too. In the very LEAST an open door found at the alarm event scene should be presumed to be a valid alarm until the PD proves otherwise, not the other way around.

I have contacted my City of Peoria AZ Representative, Vice Mayor Carlat to notify her of this unjust situation and all I got was essentially a form letter saying she does empathize with me but the Police Department has already reviewed my case so all is ASSUMED to be well (somehow having the Police Department review its own flawed determination seems less than satisfactory to me, but maybe it's just me):
While Ms. Carlat does empathize with your frustration, a thorough and comprehensive review of your case was performed by the designated representative for the Peoria Police Chief, as authorized by the Peoria City Code.
Is it just me or does that sound like a flawed policy to anyone else? Put the Police Department in charge of reviewing its own flawed determinations. Isn't that just perfect. A government Police agency in charge of Policing itself to make sure it is being fair in the methods it uses to fleece its Citizens to gain the extra revenue it desires. Isn't this just typical, if you want something screwed up, ask the government to do something. If you really want to see something screwed up, ask the government to police itself while doing something.

Being myself completely unsatisfied with Vice Mayor Carlat's response, not to mention the fact that during her tenure she voted in favor of forcing Peoria residents to pay more for sewer & garbage services (my rates have already increased TWICE since) in order to pay for forced curbside recycling which had already been REJECTED when presented to the citizens for a vote, I checked to see who is running against her this year for her spot on the Peoria City Council, and to my pleasant surprise I found that Mark Knight is running against her. I have since met both Mark Knight & his wife when they stopped by to install a yard sign I requested & we discussed politics at length. During my online & in person discussions I found him to be a person of solid conservative values like unto my own (keep government small, don't create unnecessary laws or policies, no increase in taxes, etc). He is also a strong supporter of the Constitution & the Bill of Rights, including the 2nd Amendment.

I have made a donation to the Mark Knight Campaign, and I had his yard sign installed in my front yard next to my bitter gun owner & Jack Harper (AZ Senate District 4) yard signs. My wife & I will be voting for both Mark Knight & Jack Harper this year. If you are a member of AZ Legislative District 4 you might be interested in watching a debate between Senator Jack Harper & his current opponent in the upcoming Republican Primary.

If you like myself happen to live in the Peoria AZ Mesquite District I encourage you to check out Mark's web site to see if you'd be interested in voting for him. He is very responsive to his e-mail so feel free to contact him with any questions you may have.


Anonymous said...

finally someone who wants justice...whatever happens I think you madee a good call by researching it first then blogging!!!:)

Dustin said...

Thanks. Unfortunately I never made any headway, but at least I was able to get this off my chest. I'm still irritated at my representative as well as the Peoria PD leadership who essentially thumbed their nose at me.

Anonymous said...

To add to this messy matter, did you know that more than 50% of the false alarm victims are not even left a door hanger? Those poor citizens are not even notified of the false alarm fee policy or the possibility that a would be intruder was at their residence. You were one of the fortunate ones to get a door hanger- and that only because your door was found ajar.

Dustin said...

That's terrible. It is not good to be fleecing our citizens in this way. We already pay taxes, so when our alarm does it's job and scares off the intruders before the Police arrive, we should not be punished by our own Police Department!

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