TPD Chief Magnus discusses budget deficit at meet and greet

Published: Mar. 15, 2016 at 7:20 PM MST|Updated: May. 10, 2016 at 7:20 PM MST
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By Clarisse Markarian/Tucson News Now Intern 

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus held a meet and greet Tuesday, March 15 to discuss the upcoming changes to TPD as a result of the budget deficit.

Roughly 60 people attended the meeting to discuss their concerns with implementing Magnus' community-based policing model, slow response times, and how reducing the police force could affect local crime, specifically in regards to property crimes.

"We really are going to work as a team," Magnus said. "You are all key members of this team."

Magnus said he plans on assigning officers to specific neighborhoods, or sectors, so they are better able to understand the needs of different Tucson communities and address those needs appropriately.

"The system is designed to ensure enough officers are available to properly respond to calls," he said. "We want officers to think of their assigned neighborhoods as a home base and to have a sense of responsibility for them."

Another issue discussed dealt with the high volume of property crimes.

Several residents shared their personal experiences with this issue, and Magnus said that community-based policing will help alleviate this problem through active patrolling, but there will be a need for increased training.

"We're going to be needing to do a larger focus on building community policing skills across the board," he said. "We've got an incredibly dedicated and capable group of officers, but they really haven't been given the time or the resources they need to have the level of investment that we're talking about in neighborhoods."

Some attendees expressed concern over losing great TPD officers to areas like Phoenix suburbs, which often guarantee higher pay and worry pay cuts will drive more officers out.

"I'm not going to sugarcoat it," Magnus said. "Pay is a real issue."

Magnus said he plans on reducing the staff to what TPD can actually afford with the appropriate resources, however, this does not mean they will not continue to hire.

"We have to continue to recruit and hire very ambitiously," Magnus said. "We're going to be putting on three academies over the course of the next year. So, for people who might be interested in one of the best jobs that there is out there, they really need to be talking to us."

Magnus said he has already spoken to the University of Arizona Police Department and the Pima County Sheriff's Department about sharing information and resources to reach faster resolutions.

The structure should fully be in place by July 1, according to Magnus.

"This involves reconfiguration of how officers do their jobs," he said. "We have to play catch-up and it's going to take some time to encourage this policing model."

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