ONLY ON KOLD: Tucson Police Chief Chad Kasmar hits the ground running
Adding and retaining officers are one of the Kasmar’s top priorities
TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - New Tucson Police Chief Chad Kasmar is almost a week into his job.
Kasmar replaces Chris Magnus, who was confirmed by the U.S. Senate to lead Customs and Border Protection last week.
Kasmar has been with Tucson Police Department for two decades and said he has met with command staff already to begin working on what he envisions will be the next steps for the department.
KOLD News 13′s Valerie Cavazos spoke with Kasmar on his new position.
“I don’t know that I’ve had the opportunity for all this to sink in because it’s been such a whirlwind, and we’ve been so busy with some really challenging things, but it’s such an honor and I’m so excited,” Kasmar said.
He said his first order of business is to get out from behind the desk and get into the neighborhoods.
“I’ve been blessed throughout my career and worked in every different ward. I’ve worked in every different division,” he said.
“This is not the same downtown that existed back in 2007 when I was a sergeant working midnights here on the first squad,” he said. “So it’s exciting as a native of Tucson to see what some neighborhoods have become and how things have changed.”
The TPD underwent a myriad of changes under Magnus, which included changing how the department responds to low-level crimes.
Kasmar explained how he is going to respond to the changes.
“What I’m going to do is evaluate what we’re doing and how we’re responding currently,” he said. “The city leadership has given me the opportunity to have community listening sessions. What calls does our community want police officers at? It’s an opportunity to be really good at a few things instead of OK at a lot of things.”
Kasmar said he’ll need to figure out what can realistically be done since the department is down about 120 officers and 70 professional staff members.
Magnus brought in Community Service Officers to help with the severe staffing shortage.
“I’d like to triple the number of community service officers,” he said.
He explained how he would budget that possibility.
“That’s something I would be working with Deputy Manager (Liana) Perez on and the mayor,” he said. “The future of TPD with Community Service Officers is that you don’t just see them in parks, that they don’t come and take a burglary over, they’re certainly capable of those things or helping with traffic. But, there’s a world where they support investigations and becomes a full career track if they’d like.”
Adding and retaining officers is also one of Kasmar’s top priorities, which is a dire necessity to stay on top of investigations this year.
“My first day in uniform was Thursday,” he said. “My second day on the job, I grabbed a cup of coffee and went to the top of the building. Actually, I went to supply, that’s where new employees check-in and employees check out to retire. I told them we’re not accepting any resignations and retirements the next two years.”
“We need everybody, all hands on deck, and we need everybody to chip in and they laughed and they realized I wasn’t joking.”
He said staff appreciation is what he hopes will keep the staffing levels stable.
“I went up to the third floor and I started in the homicide unit,” he said. “I looked at all of them and I told them how excited I was to be back. I thanked them for the work they’ve been doing because we’re going to set a record high of homicides this year and that creates wear and tear on that staff.”
The pressure is on right out of the starting gate, as Kasmar has given himself a year to prove his worth.
“I’ll be candid, I gave a little bit of a money-back guarantee,” he said. “In a year, if the community is not happy with me, if the mayor and city manager and the department aren’t happy with me, and I haven’t been about to produce results I know our leadership team can produce in the way that we can do it, then we can have that conversation,” he said.
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