Phoenix departments team up for new task force to investigate fires
PHOENIX — Phoenix is taking a new approach to solving fire crimes.
The city’s fire and police departments have teamed up to form the Phoenix Fire Investigations Task Force. It’s made up of 14 fire captains and four police detectives.
Phoenix Fire Assistant Chief Scott Walker, who oversees the fire captains with the task force, said members of the department’s fire investigation unit have for years been working with Phoenix police officers to investigate fires. What’s different now is that police officers are joining fire investigators at fire scenes.
“Those police officers are right there in the scene,” he said. “They can start the process of doing what they do very well – that is interviewing suspects, reaching out to their leads and members within their department to find resources that they might have available to them.”
The task force was launched six months ago.
Phoenix Police Sgt. Tom Britt, who supervises the police detectives with the task force, said there are already a number of fire crimes that have been resolved as “a direct result” of the task force.
He pointed to the recent arrest of Francis Claude Klettke, who was booked for arson last week for a carport fire in Phoenix that destroyed a dozen vehicles.
He also pointed to another case in the Arcadia area where a series of arson incidents were reported in December. He said the investigative work from the task force led to the arrest of three people, including two juveniles.
“Those are examples and highlights of the work that the unit has done just in the past six months, and we anticipate that it’s only going to grow,” Britt said.