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TPD chief takes questions from the community

Posted at 9:45 PM, Mar 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-16 11:35:52-04
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) -- After announcing a re-organization within the department, Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus spoke with the community about the budget Tuesday night. 
A few dozen people showed up to the meet and greet event at the Tucson City Council Ward 6 office. Questions ranged from campus issues, working with other agencies, and response times for property crimes.
A number of people shared their experiences including Nick Perrotta. He told Magnus he has had issues with break-ins, loitering and other illegal activities in the central area of town where he lives. When he calls officers, Perrotta says no one responds or follows up.
"I think we need more police presence just on a daily basis and a nightly basis," Perrotta said. "I think we just need to see police driving around. And when we make a call they have to respond within a reasonable time."
Magnus says the rate we are able to solve property crimes is not unusual, but it's not acceptable.
"We need to do a better job prioritizing calls for service, and figuring out how are response is as good as it should be in every case," Magnus said.
While big changes won't happen overnight, Magnus says TPD will be more strategic in how they deploy officers to get better results.
Magnus has continually emphasized the importance of community policing. He says that means geographically assigning officers to neighborhoods so they can track what's going on crime wise and can respond to concerns from the community.
"When people know their officers, and are confident their officers know their neighborhood, they are more willing to work together and you just get better outcomes," Magnus said.
TPD may have limited resources, Magnus said, so they are trying to work as smartly as possible. Under the new structure the department will have about 850 sworn officers, and Magnus says his hope as we move forward is to get that number back to 900.
Another issue was raised about officers leaving the force for other departments. Magnus says that is a very real problem, and we need to look at how we can pay more competitive salaries.
Magnus says he was very happy with the turnout of Tuesday's meeting, as it shows people in Tucson really do care about their community. As the new chief, Magnus said he never wants to lose sight that community members are the customer, and community policing will help give them what they need.
The proposed changes to the TPD budget will likely go into effect July 1. City leaders still have to approve the final budget.
The meet and greet event was facilitated by Tucson City Councilor Steve Kozachik.