The primary responsibility of a city is to protect its citizens. Without a reasonable expectation of safety, there is not much reason to live in a city. Despite this, city councils are often hesitant to do what it takes to enable safe streets and healthy communities.
In the aftermath of the great recession, the city put a hiring freeze on the Phoenix police department. The freeze saved money like it was supposed to, but the department was unable to replace officers who retired or left the force. Fewer officers on patrol means slower response times. It means greater detachment from the communities they serve.
An effective police force means one that is on patrol, keeping neighborhoods safe. It’s a force that is plugged into the community and serves its interests.
When the force was at its smallest, Ahwatukee had less than five people patrolling the area at any given time and had to rely heavily on outside assistance. Response times grew as large as seven minutes, and there were times the police did not arrive for an agonizing 17.
Chronic understaffing can keep a force from adequately serving the community, and result in worse care for those who need it. While the recession took away much of the money the city could work with, it also meant years of a stagnating police force, stretched thin by lack of resources and personnel.
The city has finally begun hiring more officers and is working towards a near 2009 level of police personnel. There are arguments on both sides for hiring more than that or keeping it at the 2009 level, but what matters is that there is finally some positive change.
When it comes to keeping the city safe, firefighters stand with police. They pull people out of burning buildings, respond to medical emergencies, rescue endangered hikers, and save lives at the sites of car crashes. Our 2,000 firefighters deserve our support, but they have been accused and assailed by Sal DiCiccio.
Entry level firefighters work 56 hour weeks to make less money than he does, and they risk their lives day and night; literally. Sal likens Fire Department union leaders to mob bosses and accuses them of stealing money. These are the same leaders who have to save lives and risked their own for decades in service of the city.
As your city councilman, I will say yes to safe cities and say yes to our first responders. I will support EMS, Police, and Fire, and will always do whatever I can to make sure they are protecting and representing our communities in the safest, most effective way possible.
Sal claims the city should only spend money on the key functions of the city, and I agree. I applaud the city council members who recognize safety as one of the key functions of the city and actually voted to fund those city services that keep us safe.