Tucson police chief lays out list of calls police will no longer respond to – blames ‘staffing shortage’

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TUCSON, AZ- As with many police departments nationwide, who are seeing a staffing shortage as police officers tire of being targeted not only by criminals but by politicians, and who also flee for greener pastures, the city of Tucson, Arizona is facing a crippling shortage of police officers, and now the department has been forced to make some tough decisions.

Among those is a significant list of calls where a police officer will no longer respond.

According to the Herald Review, Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus last week told officers and staff in an internal email that officers will no longer be responding to a long list of calls starting in the near future.

Magnus confirmed the contents of the email to the Green Valley News and noted that, “Call demand far exceeds the number of officers available to address it.”

That situation may very well worsen with the overwhelming influx of illegals entering the state from Mexico due to an out-of-control border fueled by Biden administration policies.

A year this past January, Magnus told a Tucson city council study session that the department’s pay lagged some 13.4 percent below that of surrounding agencies, and he would need an additional $10.6 million per year just to break even in making up the difference.

For example, he said last year a Phoenix-area town, Queen Creek decided to start its own police department, and was only accepting lateral hires in building the department. He noted that city’s base pay for officers with three to four years of experience is $19,000 higher than that of Tucson, plus an additional $2,000 hiring bonus.

Magnus told the city council members, “Departments want to hire our cops,” while adding that Tucson is losing sworn staff “at a troubling rate.”

As of Jan 1, 2020, Tucson had a force of 853 sworn officers, which dwindled to 813 a year later, a rate of losing about 8.5 officers per month. At that rate, Magnus told the council they’ll be down to 709 by Jan. 1, 2024.

Magnus’ email, sent last Thursday said the reduction in calls responded to would be phased in over the near term, however following is a list of calls which police will no longer respond to:

  • Contraband at schools, hospitals and courts (with the exception of firearms);
  • Deaths at medical care facilities;
  • Non-criminal homeless calls on public property;
  • Loud music/loud noise calls (with the exception of large parties, which they will still respond to;
  • Medical check welfare;
  • Uncooperative victims at hospitals;
  • Non-criminal transports (medical, detox, shelter, etc.).

Those changes are effective immediately. Phased in down the road, calls which will no longer get a police response include:

  • Code enforcement calls;
  • Trespassers inside certain abandoned properties;
  • Civil matters (landlord-tenant disputes, child custody issues);
  • Runaways;
  • Mental health check welfares;
  • Suicidal subjects;
  • Panhandling, UIP, DIP (urination/defecation in public);
  • Financial crimes;
  • Abandoned line: Magnus noted this would require the response of CMT’s (Crisis Mobile Teams)

Magnus noted that many of these calls shouldn’t have warranted a police response in the first place, he told the Green Valley News.

“It’s a gradual transition and many of these are things we shouldn’t have been responding to in the first place,” he said.

“There is no easy way to do this,” he wrote in his email., while announcing that traffic safety officers would also be delegated to spend half their time responding to calls for service; a majority of prison transport officers will return to patrol; some academy staff will return to patrol; and the majority of the mayor’s security detail will return to the streets.

In a Facebook post, the Tucson Police Officers’ Association (TPOA) noted that the staffing shortages have resulted in severe delays to over 1,012 burglaries over the past year.

They said that a majority of burglary victims waited at least four hours to speak with an officer and noted that one victim in fact waited for 23 hours.

 

In a statement to KGUN, one union spokesperson told the outlet:

“It really delays our response to the community, which means we lose evidence scattering, we lose time in the suspect being further away or ahead of us. And then as our standard goes down, we’re going to see cuts to our proactive, preventative strategies.”

The outlet reported that the Tucson PD needs about 1,000 sworn officers in order to effectively operate.

“Staffing itself affects our morale and then also, it’s everything,” the TPOA spokesman told KGUN. It’s the equipment. It’s the overall feeling that we’re not investing in public safety the way we should and that drives down morale across the board.”

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Last month, we wrote about the mass exodus of officers from the country’s largest police department, the New York City Police Department (NYPD). For more on that, we invite you to:

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NEW YORK CITY, NY – Still reeling from a mass exodus of officers in 2020, the New York Police Department is on track to face even greater losses of officers in 2021, according to NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea.

According to Newsday, at his annual State of the NYPD address on January 27, 2021, Commissioner Shea stated that “the attrition that hit the department was a ‘very aggressive’ flood of retirements that continues to force him and his staff to make tough decision on using resources.”

As reported by The Police Tribune, Shea noted that “the number of retirements this year (2021) is already surpassing last year’s rate.” 

According to Newsday, 2020 figures showed an increase of 72% over 2019 retirements.

The vast wave of retirements began in the summer of 2020, a time when the NYPD work environment could only be described as hostile.

Anti-police sentiment raged throughout the country, fueled by a media largely biased against police.

More than 400 police officers were injured in 2020 in the anti-police protests following the death of George Floyd.  Protesters targeted NYPD officers and vandalized police vehicles.

As of September 2020, injuries to NYPD officers showed a 47% increase due to the violent actions of rioters.

The NYPD also had to deal with the movement to defund the police, and they faced a drastic $1 billion budget cut in the summer of 2020.  This cut left law enforcement officials scrambling to allocate resources as overtime was reduced by $352 million and the size of the police force was cut by 1,163 officers, even as violent riots raged.

This budget cut also led to New York Mayor de Blasio’s cancellation of a class of 1200 recruits.

As if the vicious anti-police protests were not enough, NYPD also had to contend with an increase in violent crime overall in New York City.

Commissioner Shea reported at his most recent State of the NYPD address on January 27 that shootings in 2020 nearly doubled over the previous year.

As we previously reported, there were “1,433 shooting incidents and 1,756 victims shot from said incidents throughout the year” as of December 2020.

The NYPD also had to deal with what Commissioner Shea has termed an “open door” when it comes to keeping criminals behind bars.

Shea recently told Pix 11:

“What we’re seeing is a revolving door, or maybe you can just say an open door, where 90 percent roughly of the people that we’ve arrested for guns are out on the street, whether they’re awaiting a disposition of their court case or they’re not prosecuted.” 

He added:

“And that is a real obstacle that we continue to have to face.”

Between June and July of 2020, the NYPD experienced a 411 percent increase in retirement requests over the same period in 2019.

The department even found it necessary to cap the number of retirement applicants the pension section saw per day. 

In the wake of the anti-police violence and sentiment, massive budget cuts, and increasing crime, 2,600 NYPD officers had retired as of the end of 2020 according to Newsday, representing an increase of 72% over officer retirements in 2019.

Newsday also reports that Commissioner Shea has noted that the pace of retirements in early 2021 is slower than last year, but the numbers of retirements are still higher than in 2020.

Shea recently told reporters:

“I mean it couldn’t go any higher, what we saw in June, July, August, September was off the charts.”

Shea also suggested that financial considerations were driving many of the retirements.

He stated:

“I think it was money, I think it was finances with overtime … because if you tell someone over the next four years you are going to make less money, they have to consider that.”

Police Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch told Newsday:

“We practically had a line out the door of PBA headquarters this summer. Dozens upon dozens of talented, experienced cops were stopping by every week to tell us they were pulling the pin; they’d had enough.”  

Lynch went on to say: 

“Nearly 3,000 left.”

Aware of the “disgruntled” state of NYPD cops, acting DHS Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli even offered in July 2020 to hire officers from the beleaguered department.

He tweeted:

“Hey, #NYPD, @DHSgov would love to have you if NYC doesn’t want you!” 

Cuccinelli continued:

“Come join our team, where you will be appreciated by your political leadership instead of being belittled and treated like you are the problem instead of part of the solution.”

According to the New York Post, many of the “fed-up” officers have been leaving NYPD to seek employment in Long Island’s Nassau County Police Department, due to “an increasingly anti-cop climate in the city and underwhelming pay.”

One source told the Post:

“They are going to a department where they will be better appreciated by their community, local politicians and district attorneys who still value the job they do protecting innocent people and property over criminals.”

What is striking about these career moves is that most officers who are leaving NYPD for Long Island are not older, experienced officers, but cops who are still early in their careers.

The move of this particular demographic will make things even harder for the NYPD, one anonymous Manhattan officer told the Post.

The officer stated:

“The city spent millions of dollars training these cops hoping that they would be around for another 20-plus years.”

The officer continued:

“That money and experience just walked out the door, putting a further drain on the city’s budget nightmare.”

PBA President Pat Lynch pointed the finger squarely at the city’s budgetary considerations when it came to addressing the exodus toward Long Island.

He said in a statement:

“We continue to lose trained, experienced police officers to Nassau County and other departments where they can earn up to 70 percent more.” 

Lynch added:

“It’s yet another sign that New York City politicians don’t really care about improving policing in this city.

“What they want is fewer cops on streets, and their refusal to pay us a fair-market wage is getting them exactly that.”

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