Tucson Police Chief Christopher Magnus announced organizational changes Wednesday as part of a new budget plan. One of those changes is merging the downtown and west divisions and creating a new Entertainment District detail to patrol the downtown, Fourth Avenue and Main Gate areas.
Magnus stated in a department memo that they looked at call loads and learned that the downtown officers are under utilized compared to officers in other divisions.
But this change has one business owner very worried. Margo Susco has owned a store in downtown Tucson for almost 22 years and closely worked with TPD to form the downtown division about a decade ago.
"It really concerns me that so many changes are taking place on such a great level so quickly and most of the merchants down here are in no hurry to lose our Division 5," said Susco. "We fought so hard to get Division 5 down here it makes me very sad to think that we're gonna lose it."
The new Entertainment district Detail in Magnus' plan includes one lieutenant, four sergeants, 28 officers and one community resource officer. The rest of the division will be absorbed into Operations Division West.
The officers in the Entertainment District will primarily be assigned to bike and walking beats. Something that Susco says will take away an excellent crime deferment: patrol cars.
"Bad guys don't like to see police cars," said Susco. "You see a police car with the lights going that sends a direct message.
But Magnus said in a press conference Wednesday that that idea couldn't be further from the truth.
"So I'm a little mystified frankly how anyone would get the idea that this or any other plan that we've talked about includes taking away patrol cars or diminishing our presence in the downtown area," he said.
He also said patrol cars will still go through downtown in addition to bike and foot patrols and that he believes this plan will ultimately provide more police presence in the downtown area.
"We're going to be strengthening the number of officers in the area surrounding downtown to the degree that the neighborhoods that need greater attention they're going to get it," said Magnus.
As far as a timeline, Magnus said most of these changes will take place within the next 30-60 days with full implementation before the next fiscal year that begins in July.