The Tucson Police Department will be tightening its already overloaded belt in the wake of the of the recent election results.
But we saw that coming.
A majority 62 percent voted no to Proposition 400, which would have led to a one-half cent increase in Tucson city sales tax to help fund “core” services – things like firefighters and cops.
Please try not to start any blazes or create any mayhem or traffic crashes during these tough times.
While Tucson Police Chief Roberto Villaseñor promised no layoffs of commissioned personnel in his Nov. 3 memo to City Manager Mike Letcher, he did note other reductions in service that will kick in Dec. 5.
These reductions are hitting when the Tucson police force is already at nearly the lowest it has been in the past 10 years – with 145 fewer sworn members than a mere two years ago.
Welcome to the new Tucson.
On the flipside, frustration is through the roof.
“There has been a palpable increase in the use of psychological services by all members of the department, both sworn and non-sworn,” Villaseñor wrote in the memo.
“Feedback from a wide cross-section of employees over the past several months through our internal audit process has increasingly pointed toward frustration of being asked to do more with less, and simply being unable to meet the expectations of the public due to decreased staffing.”
Welcome to the new America.
Emergency calls, of course, will remain a top priority, as will follow-up investigations that serve to put the bad guys – or gals – behind bars.
That means some other stuff has got to go.
The number of traffic division cops will go down, moving 20 officers from traffic duties to patrol squads.
“Only collisions with injury, those with suspected impaired drivers, or those blocking the roadway will generate a police response, with the remainder being directed to Internet or callback reporting,” the memo said. Additionally, the Arizona Department of Public Safety will once again be overseeing enforcement of commercial vehicle codes within city limits.
A number of bicycle officers will bite the dust, with 26 of them moved to patrol squads.
“This will restrict the current proactive response capability of field divisions to address neighborhood nuisance issues.”
Seven officers assigned to recruiting and academy functions are moving from their current functions into the field, “reducing the department’s training and future hiring capabilities.”
Five detectives are going from their current assignments with the Office of Internal Affairs to vacant detective positions with the Property Crimes and the Crimes Against Persons divisions. Internal Affairs will be reorganized “to ensure the continued vigorous investigation of both internal and external complaints.”
When all the dust is settled from the changes, coupled with the inability to fill vacant positions that arise, the Tucson police force is expected to be at 200 fewer members than it was in 2008.
“At best, the department can add as many as 50 new positions in addition to attrition each budget year if fully funded to do so,” Villaseñor writes. “A concerted effort to return to staffing levels of November 2008 would take a minimum of five to six fully funded years from the beginning of such an effort.”
“As the department moves forward with these changes I expect that there will be considerable frustration from our community. While I intend to remain as responsive as possible to the needs of the community the department simply cannot meet all of the commitments we have met in the past because of the financial reductions we have already experienced, and more importantly, that we will experience now that we know the result of the elections,” Villaseñor’s memo concludes.
“It is with a heavy heart that I must make these changes, particularly because I fully expect that further, more devastating cuts will need to be implemented in the coming months to address the financial constraints facing the City overall.”
Welcome to the new world.
What do you think?
Did you vote yes or no on Proposition 400?
Do these changes sound horribly drastic and ineffective or do they make sense?