TPD forum focuses on problems with property crimes

TPD forum focuses on problems with property crimes
(Source: Tucson News Now)

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - A community forum Thursday night, April 5, had Tucson's police chief answering tough questions about crime prevention.

The discussion was moderated and hosted by Tucson Police Department Chief Chris Magnus and Ward 3 Council Member Paul Durham. It centered around property crimes inside the meeting room at the Tucson Police Department West Division Station.

Those same property crimes are often overlooked when officers are at higher-priority emergencies.

The Ward 3 constituents who showed up at the forum were not waiting around to be a victim.

Donna Perry, who lives near Stone Avenue and Glenn Street, said she has seen a laundry list of law breaking right outside her window.

"Fast drug deals and all that," she said.

Her next-door neighbor, Tina Hogan, sat right next to Perry inside Thursday's forum with similar issues.

"Heavy drug usage, bike chop shop. You name it, it's there," Hogan said.

It's why the neighbors said they're at the point where they think twice about picking up the phone and calling police.

"The property behind me has been raided twice by the police - SWAT, helicopters, the whole nine yards - and everybody is back the next day," Hogan said. "After a while you get fed up and you're like, okay, what else can you do to try and get the bad element out of the neighborhood."

It led them both to show up at the Community Policing Forum on Property Crime Prevention, among the roughly 40 others who have had enough.

"I wasn't so much surprised as actually I was pleased to see that you have this kind of turnout," Chief Magnus said.

He said he hears their plight, from people who care about the problems, as he fights problems within.

The number of sworn officers in the Tucson Police Department is at its lowest level in three decades. Tucson Police pay is not up to par or even competitive with other departments, the city finds, so officers walk out the door.

Magnus' bosses, the city council, appear to be making progress.

"Okay, we can be frustrated by that but we also have to be realists about what can we do differently and how do we use other resources," the chief said.

He brought up the benefit of Neighborhood Watch groups, with larger numbers of residents teaming up to keep a watchful eye.

As for different measures his department is taking, the city is reportedly working to hire more community service officers to follow up with lower-level crimes. The recruitment of more volunteers is also being considered.

The ladies aren't waiting around in their Stone and Glenn neighborhood.

"And that's what I plan to do after that meeting is to approach more neighbors and see if we can get on board for watching out for each other," Perry said.

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