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POLICING TUCSON: Officers work to reduce crime in Division West

Posted at 9:47 PM, Sep 30, 2021

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Officers manning Tucson's Division West have their hands full.

Officers there are receiving more 9-1-1 calls than in any other area of town, but they are also seeing most of the violent crime.

“Our numbers are up in comparison to over the five-year average," said Capt. Christopher Dennison.

Violent crime is considered murders, aggravated assaults, sexual assaults, and robberies, according to Capt. Dennison.

"We're at 15 homicides in this division for the year we're looking at about 133% increase over a five-year period," he said.

Capt. Dennison is in charge of the area said many factors could contribute to the rise in crime, but he and his officers are getting creative to curb it.

11th Avenue and Flores Street is a traditional hot spot for the division, according to Capt. Dennison.

“We’d have prostitution, drug trafficking, we’d get shots fired calls, auto theft, burglaries, robberies— really running the gamut,” said Capt. Dennison.

The area is also home to Ward 3 where a pilot was implemented known a the Vacant and Neglected Properties pilot.

“This program is an initiative through the Ward 3 offices and city departments to identify properties that are generating huge call loads for TPD [and] code enforcement. Those departments come together, along with the City Attorney's office to get in touch with the property owner, so that the property does not stay in decay,” said Council Member Karin Uhlich

If property owners don’t comply, that’s when their building is condemned.

“We’ve had this intervention in place for over a year now and we’re looking at an overall 25 percent reduction in calls for service,” said Capt. Dennison.

Council Member Karin Uhlich said it’s also made way for success stories like this housing development a block away.

30 properties in the area have been part of the pilot, according to her office.

“We’re really looking to scale this across the city," she said.

While it hasn’t curbed all the crime in the division, officers say they are working on it.

“We have extremely dedicated officers detectives and sergeants that are out every single day that are working these problems or responding, and either one calls, they're working these problems or policing issues they're trying to come up with unique solutions to address the crime and disorder and we are seeing successes,” said Capt. Dennison.