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TPD’s new chief says short staff won’t deter safety

Watch Chief Chad Kasmar's full interview
Posted: 7:22 PM, Jan 24, 2022
Updated: 2022-01-24 21:27:12-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Chad Kasmar, Tucson’s new police chief says he will not let challenges like short staffing keep officers from keeping this community safe.

Tucson’s new Police Chief says longtime Tucsonans often think of Tucson as a small town but it’s really a major city with major city challenges we look to police to solve.

Short staffing was an issue for Tucson Police long before disruptions from COVID scrambled the overall job market. A month into his assignment as Chief, new TPD Chief Chad Kasmar says

“Certainly as a chief, I'm never going to have as much staff as I would like.”

But Chief Kasmar says he will not let that be an excuse that gets in the way of finding new, more efficient ways for police to meet their mission of community safety. He says TPD is down about 120 positions. About 45 police cadets are in training to fill some of those slots.

But he hopes Tucsonans understand it’s not reasonable to expect officers fresh from the academy to be experts in every area they encounter.

“It takes three to five years to become a well rounded officer but during that time where if you're a new journalist, you might make mistakes and you get several cuts. We don't afford those same opportunities for our young police officers. They have to be perfect. We expect perfection every time they go out to do their job.”

TPD is moving more to the philosophy that someone with a badge and a gun is not always the best person for every call. Sometimes a mental health counselor should respond or someone who knows how to get a homeless person into shelter.

Part of the effort to make the most of resources involves a more focused effort to use data to identify troubled places and people

Chief Kasmar says, “If you're a victim of a violent crime today and you fit a certain age you you their propensity for you to maybe become the next part of the violent crime cycle is high, and how do we engage you for you to recognize that, hey, maybe your behavior is going to get you in a position where you're the next victim, or you're the next suspect.”

Part of that effort depends on you to report things that help police recognize patterns of trouble, like break ins or the sound of gunshots.

The Chief says the current surge of violent crime is different because it involves more people who do not know each other and let rage overcome them—add to that they’re having an easier time getting guns.

“So my call to action for the community is this. Go the other way. If you're out driving today and somebody you accidentally cut somebody off and they throw their hands up at you don't honk back and throw your hands back, just go ahead and make that next turn. Go the other way you have a choice as the other recipient of how you react to the catalyst and another human being's behavior.”

Chief Kasmar spent part of his more than 21 years in police work doing traffic enforcement. He says he will be putting more effort into getting aggressive drivers off the road.

Full interview with new Tucson Police Chief Chad Kasmar