TUCSON, Ariz. - Tucson Police often face complaints about poor service -- and slow response times.
So what are they doing about it?
This story begins with an angry Tweet earlier this year complaining about TPD understaffing and dealing with two homicides in two days.
The tweet was aimed at Chief Christopher Magnus who invited the tweeter to learn more about what Tucson Police are doing to reduce crime and improve staffing. To hear that for ourselves, we sat down with the Assistant Chief who oversees TPD's administration.
Assistant Chief Eric Kazmierczak says ten or fifteen years ago TPD had about 11 hundred officers. Years of tight budgets, drove officers away and made it harder to recruit replacements but he says losses are slowing down
“Our attrition rate has dropped significantly over the last four months of the year last year, we were seeing an attrition rate that has dropped in hovering right around four officers a month. If you remember, we were averaging nearly eight officers a month at this time last year. And and you know, the preceding months to that."
It's helped than in May 2017 Tucson voters approved a half cent sales tax expected to bring in 150 million dollars for more police and fire equipment for the five year life of the tax.
While the tax gave officers better tools to do their jobs, other parts of the city budget aimed to keep more officers on the force through better pay.
Assistant Chief Kazmierczak says, “We got between five and 15% raise for a lot of the officers on the department which is which is substantial, when you've been facing a situation where officers haven't had pay raises in, you know, eight or 10 years getting a five to 10% pay raises was meaningful for them."
Short staffing makes it especially important to focus officers where they're needed the most. For that, TPD is working with an upgrade to Compstat, a program to track crime patterns. Now it will track which crimes are cleared plus community satisfaction in a way that merges modern data management with the traditional cop on the beat.
“Knowing the business owners; being able to interact, not just not walk into the school and say, Hi, here's, here's, here's my name, Mr. or Mrs. Principal, here's my business card, here's how you get ahold of me. But really building a relationship with the schools really building a relationship with the with the neighborhood association."