TPD chief asks for public's patience in riot investigation - Tucson News Now

TPD chief asks for public's patience in riot investigation

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

The Tucson Police chief asks for the public's patience as the department investigates videos from the March 29 riot at Main Gate Square following the University of Arizona basketball team's loss in the NCAA tournament.

TPD Chief Roberto Villasenor said the department has received criticism over how its officers handled the situation. He said the department will be held accountable if an investigation proves its conduct was wrong.

He followed that the presence of extra police on Saturday helped maintain the large crowd near the University of Arizona campus.

Chief Villasenor wrote the following post to the Tucson Police Department Facebook page Tuesday afternoon:

While I understand the level of emotion concerning videos that have been circulating from March 29, I would like to implore members of the community to allow us the time to thoroughly investigate the incident. I am not making any excuses; however, I am duty bound to weigh all of the evidence in this situation, which necessarily involves consideration of differing perspectives, statements and viewpoints. This is not the type of situation where judgment may be made lightly or without knowing all the facts. If our conduct was wrong, we will hold ourselves accountable.
These are difficult situations that often put law enforcement in a no-win situation. On the night of Thursday, March 27, the Sweet 16, we did not deploy additional resources in the area, and we had to draw resources from across the city to deal with the hundreds of people that took over University Blvd. Even though we had never experienced that type of crowd reaction so early in the tournament, there were some questions as to why we were not ready and deployed. So for the Elite 8 on Saturday, we did deploy additional resources based upon what happened two nights earlier and are now questioned as to whether our presence was the cause for the disturbance.

It is important to acknowledge that there were numerous people present on Saturday night who came out expressly for the purpose of causing a disturbance. Social media sources of comments posted before and during the event prove that. The fact that there were no serious injuries and only one bent street sign demonstrates that our presence helped maintain control.
We are not an organization that shies away from being self-critical and holding ourselves accountable. It is easy to paint with a broad brush in situations such as this, but again I am asking the public for a little patience while we take the time to conduct a thorough investigation and arrive at fact supported conclusion.

As for comments on this site, we reserve the right to delete any vulgar or profane language, but we will no longer restrict critical postings concerning our actions. We understand that as part of government, we are responsible to you, the citizens, and your viewpoints are important.

Roberto A. Villaseñor
Chief of Police

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