Tucson Police Department working to hire officers as community experiences long response times
TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Staffing at Tucson Police Department has hit an all-time low, and community members are speaking out after they experienced long response times when calling 911.
According to the Tucson Police Officers Association, TPD has around 720 officers and it is losing around 30 officers every year.
TPOA Vice President Mickael Gamez said if TPD doesn’t start hiring soon, in 24 years there could be no officers left in the city.
“We’re getting more and more calls coming into 911 and we just don’t have the staffing to get to those calls,” said Gamez.
According to Gamez, on average it takes around 17 minutes to respond to a Level 2 call, which is a 57% increase since 2019.
“There could be a point in time where, and it’s already happened I’m sure, where you’re actively being attacked, attacked with a weapon and there’s not going to be anybody to go,” Gamez said.
Tucson resident Wilson Troxel said he went through it first-hand. He called 911 after he caught a man with a knife trying to climb into his friend’s bedroom window.
“There’s more pressing issues is what I was told. I asked the dispatcher, ‘Is it more pressing than a man trying to break into a woman’s bedroom with a knife?’” said Troxel. “I said, ‘This is a front-page headline tomorrow. What are you guys doing?’”
Troxel said no one showed up for nearly 18 hours, around 8 p.m. the next night.
“She said it was a guy in light blue, so a community service officer, not even an armed officer. She said she’ll never call again, she said next time she’ll just handle it,” Troxel said.
In a statement to KOLD News 13, TPD Police Chief Kasmar said:
Almost every major city police department in the country is facing the challenge of keeping their commissioned police officer positions filled with qualified candidates who are ready to join the dynamically evolving policing profession, and we are no exception here at TPD.
Throughout 2022 we have worked hard to connect with our community and our local school systems to develop meaningful relationships that not only define Tucson’s deep connection with their police department but relationships that also allow us to be recognized as an employer of choice through an amazing profession. We are placing the right work in the right hands here at TPD to ensure we provide our community with the best possible service. We are placing additional efforts into recruiting not just for police officer vacancies but for Community Service Officer (CSO) positions and to fill newly approved positions. The Mayor and Council approved an expansion of our CSO program, which will allow TPD to expand traditional CSO responsibilities and help us meet service delivery needs that don’t require a police officer to resolve a situation.
Tucson spread the word, we are hiring! We have over 100 police officer recruit positions and 50 CSO recruit positions to fill. Are you ready to join our TPD team?
Gamez said the chief has done a great job recruiting; He said funding is a big problem.
“Our mayor and council made a wise decision. We have a great chief now and he’s a great leader but he can’t fix this problem unless they’re giving him the resources to do that. That’s coming from us. That’s not coming from him,” Gamez said.
If you want to apply for a position at TPD click here.
Copyright 2022 KOLD News 13. All rights reserved.