"It's unacceptable": Tucson Police Chief responds to hours-long response times
Reporter: Marcelino Benito
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - 9OYS sat down with councilman Steve Kozachik to show him KGUN9's coverage of a spat of Tucson burglaries plagued by slow response times from the Tucson Police Department. He saw first hand what 9OYS viewers are calling in to complain about.
After watching Jennifer Waddell's story, Kozachik told 9OYS public safety should be the priority, but he says slow response times are not TPD's fault.
"We, the Mayor and Council, are the ones putting the public at risk because we're not giving the police the resources they need," Kozachik said. "So the blame doesn't fall on TPD. It falls on the back of the Mayor and Council."
9OYS reporter Marcelino Benito then took your questions and concerns to Police Chief Roberto Villasenor. He asked him if he found 8-hour response times "unacceptable."
"Absolutely, it's unacceptable, but the reality is we're working with 160 less officers than when we were at the height of our staffing in 2008," Villasenor said.
Unacceptable, but a reality none the less. There's less officers on the streets and burglary calls are on the rise.
"It's really like that game of whack a mole," Villasenor said. "When problems come up, we try to take those resources and address those problems."
But with less money coming from the city, 9OYS asked the chief what he was doing to get more money to his department. He replied, "We've shown what we're doing.
That added 75 extra officers, but getting them on the street doesn't happen overnight.
"You can't just go and hire someone, put a gun on them and say you're a cop," Kozachik said. "It takes time."
But time is exactly the issue. The time it's taking to get an officer to your door after a break in is increasing, and it leaves many viewers wondering what the priorities are.
Benito asked Villasenor if he believes city leaders agree public safety funding should be the utmost priority. He replied, "That's a question you'd have to ask them, for me it's the utmost priority."
The City Council will once again start to tackle the budget at a meeting in mid-December.