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Tempe Police - "trust us, we know you are criminals"

  The cops tell us we are a bunch of stupid morons and we can't possibly understand the reasons they have flagged a home as a "hazard to police". Nor will they tell us the reasons. The response of the cops "is trust us, we know you are criminals".


Home of woman critical of PD chief taken off hazard list

by Dianna M. Nez - Dec. 19, 2009 08:00 AM

The Arizona Republic .

Over the past four months, Eleanor Holguin has railed against the Tempe mayor, police chief and council for abusing their power and refusing to justify why her family's address was deemed a hazard to police.

Now, she has been taken off the Tempe Police Department's hazard list and her criticism is mixed with gratitude for those who ultimately cleared her name. She told the council last week that she hopes others will benefit from her family's ordeal.

"I would like to believe that from here on out the procedure of putting and sustaining somebody on a hazard list will be followed up with investigating whether somebody has a valid reason to be on such a list," she said, speaking at Thursday's council meeting.

Holguin's battle with Tempe leaders began in August when she discovered her address was on the hazard list after she dialed 911 for her father and police cars showed up in addition to paramedics. An Arizona Republic review confirmed that Tempe is one of many local and national law-enforcement agencies that uses an internal police database to flag addresses as hazards without ever consulting the people living in the houses. The database is tied to a computer-aided dispatch system, which can include information about prior emergency calls, criminal activity or threats tied to an address.

Police say the policy provides public-safety workers with information about dangers at a residence, allowing them greater preparation and protection when responding to a dispatch.

After Holguin found out about the hazard flag she asked Tempe leaders to explain why her address was placed on the list and how she could request an investigation of whether the designation was improper.

Tempe's legal department said that they could not provide any information to Holguin because the hazard system was not for the public's review. If people found out why they were on the list, it could anger a resident and endanger the public, Tempe police reasoned.

Holguin has long criticized Police Chief Tom Ryff, going so far as to call for his resignation. She believed that the designation was done in retaliation for those actions. Ryff has said that he was not involved in flagging Holguin's address.

"There are many reasons that a person might be placed on this (hazard) list and I agree completely with some of those reasons. I also understand that there is potential for abuse of power regarding this status," she said Thursday. This week, Tempe police released an e-mail, with officers names blacked out, which Holguin wrote in July to a Tempe police officer. In the e-mail, Holguin asks how she can file a complaint against Ryff because she believed he has encouraged lying within the department.

Holguin also wrote about being concerned for her safety because she was criticizing Ryff.

"I have taken precautions in and outside of my home to keep myself and my family safe," Holguin wrote.

That statement, said Mike Horn, a police spokesman, led an officer to bring the e-mail to Ryff's attention. Though Ryff read the e-mail, Horn said Ryff was not involved in the flagging decision.

Holguin has said that the precaution she referred to involved placing a security camera outside of her home.

"They would have known that if they just met with me," she said. "Instead they put my family through all of this. I hope no one ever has to go through what I went through. I've been called crazy, I lost my job."

Tempe police officials and Meyer confirmed this week that Holguin met with Cmdr. David Humble, a Tempe Internal Affairs investigator.

"Commander Humble made an assessment and made a determination to remove her from the list," Meyer said, adding that Holguin would soon be provided written confirmation that the address where her family has lived in Tempe for 40 years is no longer considered a hazard.

Meyer also described his recent meetings with Holguin.

"This was a case where you just sit down with somebody and you start to understand everything you thought was wrong," he said. "This is a woman who loves Tempe and cares about Tempe and I'm not going to pass judgment on her."

Despite Meyer's newfound appreciation for Holguin, Meyer said Tempe has no plans to change or review its policies for hazard designations.

"Honestly, I think this was an exceptional case," he reasoned.

At the council meeting, Holguin restated her criticism of Ryff.

"I will continue to collect information about the chief and I will continue to bring it to council and the public," she said.


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