Event organizers want more say in security

Published: Jun. 12, 2013 at 8:14 PM MST|Updated: Jun. 13, 2013 at 12:23 AM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Some event organizers say a requirement by a city committee to hire uniformed police officers for their events could shut them down.

Tucson Meet Yourself faced that dilemma two years ago when it nearly shut down because of money troubles.

Now, it would like more say as to who gets hired to provide security at its annual event.

A former organizer for the event, Mia Hansen, now with the trade group FEATSAZ, says "we the event producers know out event. We have the record. We know what's happened."

She wants a conversation with city events coordinators and the Tucson Police Department about whether spending thousands of dollars on off duty police officers is actually necessary.

"If there's an opportunity to supplant our security plan with tee-shirt volunteers or a private firm, we'd like that opportunity," she says.

Right now, according to FEATSAZ, the Tucson Civic Events Committed will tell a group how many uniformed officers it needs.

"Instead of arbitrarily placing a number at us saying you have to have x-number of police, we want some kind of formula," says Kurt Tallis, president of the organization.

A uniformed off duty police officer can be "$45 an hour and it goes up from there," says Hansen.

The group has support of several Tucson city leaders like Ward VI City Council member Steve Kozachik, who is confident a solution can be found.

"Reasonable people can come to a common ground solution," he says.

There is some concern the events could move to other locations like Sahuarita, Marana or Pima County.

The organizers say events and festivals are growing in communities nationwide and it's an opportunity Tucson could lose.

"Don't drive them out of town, don't break their budget," Kozachik says. "Let them contract out some of those services."

"We all agree things have to be safe but the reality is, we're running a business," says Tallis.

Phone calls to representatives of the civic events committee went unanswered.

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