To the problem of reducing regular crime -- homicides in Phoenix were down 24 percent in 2008 -- Harris has applied proven methods. They include the nimble deployment of manpower to high-crime hot spots, close relations between police and neighborhoods, and intense concentration on the small number of career criminals who commit a large majority of the crimes -- often hundreds a year by each individual.
Phoenix's familiar sorts of crimes have not much to do with most of the city's immigrants, legal or illegal. They commit a smaller percentage of the crimes (10 percent) than they are of the city's population (24 percent). But the lurid crimes that are giving this city an unmerited reputation as dangerous represent the seepage of the Mexican cartels into his city.
For them, Harris says, "The answer is not in Phoenix. The answer is in Washington." We know how to close a border, says Harris with acid dryness -- " build a wall" and deploy "machine gun nests." But, "I personally think that is stupid." For now, however, the United States "has turned immigration policy over to Mexican thugs." So we have reached a point at which barbed wire, car batteries and acid become the business tools of kidnapper-torturer-extortionists.
With a force large enough to police the nation's fifth-largest city, Harris can deploy 60 officers to deal with one kidnapping. That would be impossible in smaller cities, to which such crime might be driven by success here. But "don't give me 50 more" officers to "deal with the symptoms." Rather, says Harris, who was raised in a rough Phoenix neighborhood, give me comprehensive immigration reform that controls the borders, provides for whatever seasonal immigration the nation wants, and one way or another settles the status of the 12 million who are here illegally -- 55 percent of whom have been here at least eight years.
For those whose profession it is, law enforcement sometimes seems like bailing an ocean with a thimble. Harris wants not a bigger thimble but a smaller ocean.