TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — A shooting in a busy shopping center is the sort of thing that’ll get your attention. After one at 12th and Ajo KGUN 9 On Your Side heard from a frustrated business owner who wanted to see more police action against crime in the neighborhood. So we asked police what they are doing, and what results they see.
Earlier this month a shooting broke out in a busy shopping center at 12th Ave and Ajo. One man was wounded, he died a few days later.
Tucson Police quickly arrested two 17-year-olds and charged them in the case.
Stray shots hit nearby businesses including Tony Martinez's barber shop.
He said, “We need help. You don't believe it's come on down and take a look man, I mean, see for yourself.”
That was soon after the shooting. Martinez told us there’s a neighborhood business coalition working with Police to improve conditions but he and other business owners say they still see a lot of crime ranging from small time to serious.
Captain Mickey Peterson commands the TPD division that covers 12th Ave and Ajo.
“Officers are seeing the same problems that we're seeing citywide and all across the country. There's a housing crisis. So when you have more people out of housing, they're out on the streets. They're easier to become victims. They're trying to survive out there. We have substance abuse problems that are going on around the city around the country."
Captain Petersen says TPD does not see 12th and Ajo as a crisis zone but crime stats show it needs extra attention under a program called POPP for Problem Oriented Precision Policing. POPP is a plan that aims to give police a higher profile in an area and to increase contact with the public.
“That's where we assign an area and we send officers in there to make stops of 12 to 15 minutes, where they park, they make contacts, they stop and talk to people, or they just sit in the area and do paperwork, but they make a presence.”
Captain Petersen says police have had about 700 to 800 POPP deployments in the past year. For a sample of results he cites police reports for about a quarter mile radius around 12th Ave and Ajo. He says records for Feb 2021 show 71 reports for a wide range of crime. One year later the total dropped to 46.
For March 2021 the number was 76 for March of this year it was 47.
People often say they don’t want to take up police time by calling 911 for what seems to them like something very minor. Police say do call in because that gives them another piece of data that helps them decide whether an area should have POPP deployments.
Craig Smith is a reporter for KGUN 9. With more than 30 years of reporting in cities like Tampa, Houston and Austin, Craig has covered more than 40 Space Shuttle launches and covered historic hurricanes like Katrina, Ivan, Andrew and Hugo. Share your story ideas and important issues with Craig by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by connecting on Facebook and Twitter.