"For the most part, I think city is responding well": Mayor talks police response times
Reporter: Marcelino Benito
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - When 9OYS started investigating these burglaries - crimes that are destroying communities - we started to see a trend. Neighbors in city limits have waited: 6, 8, even 22 hours for an officer to show up. Now for the first time since the trends surfaced, Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild is speaking out.
"Every time I can bring a new business here we're possibly increasing our police force," Rothschild said. "Every time I can bring a new convention to this town we're getting revenue that possibly increases our police force."
The Mayor says it comes down to the city's bottom line: money coming in or revenue.
"We're in tough economic times," he said. "We're trying to build back our economy so we can provide more services."
But while Tucson works to recover, many 9OYS viewers are left waiting. Jeffrey Boggs waited eight hours for TPD to respond to his home burglary. Councilman Paul Cunningham waiting six hours when his home was burglarized. Vicky Weber waited 22 hours.
The Mayor tells 9OYS he feels the public's pain.
"The most difficult part about being burglarized is even if there's no physical threat, there's an emotional response," he said. "You're security has been breached and often times the officers responding to a scene are really just there to say every thing's okay, we'll be watching and we'll be looking for these people."
Reporter Marcelino Benito asked the Mayor if he believes the city has a problem with police response times. He replied, "For the most part, I think the city is responding well."
The Mayor says it comes down to priorities. Tough budget times and under-staffing issues at TPD have forced them to prioritize calls. Rothschild says first come calls that involve imminent threats, second come calls that are crimes in progress and third crimes where there's a real possibility of capturing a suspect.
When it comes to those scenarios, Rothschild believes TPD is the best in the business. Council member Steve Kozachik agrees. He tells 9OYS these slow response times on burglary calls are not TPD's fault.
"The blame lies with us, the Mayor and Council," Kozachik said.
So now the pressure is on the Mayor and Council to put the money, the revenue and more resources where their mouth is.
"Our number one priority in this community will always be police and fire service because that's the most important for our citizens," he said.
The Mayor says two-thirds of Tucson's budget already goes to fund police and fire. Still city leaders will have some big decisions to make about their budget moving forward. That conversation will get started in just a few weeks.