TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) -- After the TPD chief announced changes to the department, the Tucson Police Officers Association is disappointed with another cycle of cuts but is focusing on the positives of the plan.
"We're going to be able to accomplish these cuts without layoffs or demotions," said TPOA spokesperson James Winksy. "But we are going to sacrifice some specialized units that are nice to have and that assist with investigations that the community has enjoyed over the last several years."
Winsky says those specialized units include a special gang unit and the Domestic Violence Tactical Unit. Detectives are not being taken away from the Domestic Violence unit, as TPD explains the tactical unit only aided in making arrests.
Under Chief Magnus' proposal, 31 officers and and 4 sergeants on special assignment will move to patrol duties. That includes 5 officers and 1 sergeant from the Domestic Violence Tactical Unit. Winsky worries that without those special units it might be even harder to recruit quality officers.
"We have people that join the police department because they want to do gang investigations, or they want to arrest domestic violence offenders," Winsky said. "And that's going to be a little more difficult to do for the next couple years."
In a press conference Wednesday, Chief Christopher Magnus said strengthening patrols can actually help attract young officers who want to be out on the street.
"If we're really going to be community oriented and effective in crime-fighting, we have to strengthen our patrol function," Magnus said. "And that's one of the things we're doing with this plan."
The plan is a work in progress, Magnus says, and more changes could be made as the budget is finalized.
Below is a statement from the TPOA Facebook page:
"The Tucson Police Officers Association acknowledges that the Tucson Police Department has been tasked with meeting certain goals in regards to budget cuts set forth by City Manager Mike Ortega. The proposal looks to make cuts through Attrition and Vacancy savings, but will remove officers from specialized assignments and place them back into the patrol function. While this increase will address the immediate need for more officers in patrol, there will definitely be unintended consequences. This shift of staffing is a temporary patch for a long term problem. Because of the years of cuts, the Tucson Police Department is no longer seen as an attractive department, making recruitment and retention a significant challenge. This plan calls for hiring 20 officers per academy class. For the last several years there have been less than fifteen recruits per academy who finish training. In addition, historically the Tucson Police Department loses 6 officers a month. It is imperative we make the Tucson Police Department more attractive to potential candidates.
The number of officers being removed from "desk jobs" and into Patrol Divisions is actually only nine (9) officers, with only seven (7) of those being immediate moves. Officers assigned to details investigating Gangs, Street Level Narcotic Crime, Domestic Violence Crime and Property Crimes will also be removed from their assignments. Obviously an increase in the amount of Patrol Officers is greatly needed, but with these changes there will definitely be a negative impact on Investigation Services. Specialized Units will no longer be available to target the criminals that commit these heinous crimes, which will also increase the liability for the department.
However, TPOA recognizes that a plan needed to be implemented and after TPD Command Staff had long talks and consideration this proposal was determined to be the best one available. In the end there is only one solution to fix the issue so TPD can continue to provide the citizens of Tucson with the services they deserve. The City Council needs to realize that protecting investments and the safety of the citizens should be their main priority.
Chief Magnus has clearly stated that with this new round of cuts, taking our staffing levels to historic lows, our Department has done everything it can to help alleviate the budget crisis. Our Department cannot cut another single dollar. Now, the task is clear: we expect City management and leadership to begin rebuilding our Agency as soon as possible. We must make responsible and difficult decisions to make these new cuts as brief as possible, to re-institute merit and cost of living raises for our officers."
TPOA is the bargaining unit for more than 700 TPD officers, detectives, sergeants, etc.