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Midtown neighborhood, other areas of town, receive focused approach from Tucson Police Department

Place Network Investigations yield large gains
TPD_grantalvernon.png
Posted at 7:57 PM, Sep 19, 2023

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — There’s some good news from Tucson police—they’re finding the formula to reduce crime with guns. KGUN 9 talked to police leaders—- and neighborhood leaders to learn how the program works.

Reducing crime is certainly a goal…and a challenge for cities and police. The Tucson Police Department (TPD) says it's having some success by putting a special focus on certain neighborhoods.

“I began to notice how much police activity there was in the neighborhood, between this apartment and the apartment just across the street from me. So I thought I better get to know the police.”

That got Dodge Flower Neighborhood President Gretchen Ronnow involved in a Tucson Police Program trying new strategies to reduce crime.

Crime stats led the TPD to three locations with especially high gun crimes:

  • Apartments in the Dodge Flower neighborhood near Grant and Alvernon
  • At 22nd and Prudence
  • Apartments on South Campbell close to the airport

Assistant Chief Kevin Hall says the technique called PNI for Place Network Investigations has police fan out from those points to find and disrupt networks of criminals operating around them.

“Where the people go in these places. They take their networks with them. So you can have, for example, a smoke shop. That is a problem place, but that's not where crime is occurring. It feeds into the crime site across the street at the apartment complex. So we have to look at both locations because they are networked.”

Chief Hall says PNI techniques have reduced gun crime between 75 and 80% around the three sites. But PNI focuses more than police on the crime. A wide range of government agencies and private organizations pull together to help make sure people are less likely to become victims—that they are in healthy conditions with good access to jobs, health assessments, transportation and food.

Oasis Apartments Owner Brian Bowers says he’s pleased to see violent crime stats going down. He'd still like to see police come much faster when someone calls 911 and says he’d like to see owners more deeply involved in the program.

“We've hosted a couple of different fairs here, resource fairs for the tenants. So I'm not sure what else we can do as an owner because we're attending the meetings and we're allowing the use of the facilities for the fairs. If there's additional agencies that want to reach out they should reach out directly to us to coordinate something that would make it easier.”

Gretchen Ronnow sees the skill and donated materials that went into a mural at the apartments as a symbol of the long list of people and organizations that have pulled together to improve the neighborhood under PNI.

I counted up over 50 different businesses, organizations, agencies that are involved, and I do think that it helps to know that you're you're not trying to solve crime or not trying to solve code enforcement violations on your own that you have the entire city, giving you backup.”

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Craig Smith is a reporter for KGUN 9. With more than 40 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 craig.smith@kgun9.com or by connecting on Facebook and Twitter.