Mayor, police chief talk about need for extra security - Tucson News Now

Mayor, police chief talk about need for extra security

Those who walk into City Hall today will see two TPD officers and a private security guard in the building. Those who walk into City Hall today will see two TPD officers and a private security guard in the building.
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Tucson Police Chief Roberto Villaseñor says the City of Tucson has been in talks with the police department to beef up security at City Hall for months. 

There has also been talk about providing mayoral security and beefing up security at local ward offices at the request of council members.

Villaseñor says an incident on Wednesday involving as suspicious package prompted them to move fast and add an additional Tucson Police officer to protect City Hall, and the mayor's office.

Those who walk into City Hall today will see two TPD officers and a private security guard in the building, although staff stress all of this is temporary.

"City Hall is wide open. We've had events there. In fact we had another one today where someone suffering mental instability went straight up to the 10th floor," Villaseñor said.
 
Villaseñor said they were paying for the extra TPD officer through a Special Duty Residual Fund right now, but if they were to make this security permanent, he would have to figure out how to make room for that in his budget.
 
With a tight budget and officers already struggling to response to calls in a timely manner, Villaseñor said it was going to be challenge.
 
 
"Cities our size, it's getting to be quite common to have mayoral security details.  We don't have the capacity to do that at this point, but I'm trying to look at how to secure the building, and if the mayor needs security for an event he's attending, how do I do that with minimal impact on my resources?" Villaseñor said.
 
Mayor Jonathan Rothschild said he had mixed feelings about having a police officer assigned to protect him.
 
 
"We need to be realistic, we are a community of a million people.  I wish things were not like they were, but the reality is there are things happening day to day, I trust our chief will do the right thing," Rothschild said.
 
At local ward offices, most council members said they had constituents buzz in and talk to staff through security barriers for their safety. 
 
"I don't like the fact that they have to speak through a window.  It separates us from our constituents, but I had to put it in there for the safety of my staff after we had a couple crazy guys who showed up," said Ward 6 Councilman Steve Kozachik.
 
Villaseñor said he was working on a plan to provide officers for City Hall and mayoral security.
 
"I am going to be implementing an alternative response unit that deals with lower-level calls through a call-back method.  We will station those officers at different locations, so I can have one of those officers assigned to City Hall," Villaseñor said.
 
He added that these officers could take low-priority calls - those not considered emergencies - over the phone.  Villaseñor said right now, it could take an officer hours, or even days to get back to you with those.
 
With this alternative response team in place police would be able to call you back within 24 hours and give you a case number, and that would free up other officers out in the field to get to high priority calls.
 
Copyright 2013 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.
 
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