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Stanton responds to union claim that inaction as mayor led to robbery

(Flickr/Gage Skidmore)

PHOENIX — Former Phoenix mayor and U.S. congressional candidate Greg Stanton pushed back on claims made by a Phoenix police union that his robbery over the weekend was result of his inaction during his time as mayor.

Stanton, in an interview with KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Mac & Gaydos on Monday, said he worked as mayor to make room in the budget to hire more officers, despite inheriting a six-year hiring freeze when he was first elected.

“We came up with a very aggressive police hiring plan and we put into the budget the ability to hire 450 more officers,” he said. “Unfortunately, as you know, we can’t even hire the people to fill the slots that have been allotted in the city budget.”

In a Facebook post on Monday, the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, also known as PLEA, said a “precinct boundary change and staffing shortage… coupled to and compounded by the city’s six year hiring freeze” have hampered some officers’ ability to respond to service calls quickly.

“How ironic that the man who helped run Phoenix into the ground by not advocating for sufficient police staffing is now a victim of that choice?” the post read.

Stanton said he was approached by a man carrying a “hatchet weapon” while after dining at Thai Rama in central Phoenix on Saturday night. He said he pulled out his wallet because he thought the man would ask for money, “but it was clear he wanted my wallet.

“I looked at him and realized I could outrun him,” he said. “I ran around him and ran back into the restaurant.”

Stanton said he was nervous — “I was thinking, ‘Oh something.’ I don’t want to say the word.” — but that he was OK in the end, even though he lost his wallet.

He said police are investigating the incident and he is confident that they will find the perpetrator.

Stanton said he does not believe that he was targeted as a lawmaker, but just as a normal guy by himself.

“These things unfortunately happen,” he said. “There’s a first time for everything. This could’ve happened to anyone, but unfortunately it happened to me.”

But despite being a victim of crime, Stanton emphasized that Phoenix is a safe city — and that people should continue to frequent Thai Rama.

“Please go to Thai Rama,” he said. “I am going back because they have the best fried rice in town.”

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