by Jim Nintzel
The Tucson Association of Realtors want to strip budgeting power away from the Tucson City Council by mandating a certain percentage of general fund dollars be spent on police and firefighters.
The group filed has filed paperwork for the Public Safety First Initiative to give voters a chance to approve the proposition in November.
Here's the release from TAR:
A citizen’s initiative intended to provide more police and fire protection inside the Tucson city limits has been
filed with the Tucson City Clerk and proponents will seek a place on this November’s General Election ballot.
The Public Safety First Initiative would mandate minimum staffing standards and response times to ensure that the city’s Police and Fire departments have appropriate levels of trained, uniformed personnel to ensure adequate response times and increase the safety of Tucson’s residents.
Local REALTOR® Bill Arnold, chairman of the recently organized Public Safety First Committee, said “The Tucson community relies on its police officers and firefighter to protect the public and our property. This is an extremely important issue to the more than 5800 REALTORS® in this community. Our residents must be safe and our homes secure.”
Arnold serves as Chair of the Public Safety First Committee and the Public Affairs Committee of the Tucson Association of REALTORS®.
If passed by the voters the initiative would;
· Set minimum staffing level for the Tucson Police Department at 2.4 full-time sworn officers per 1000 city residents.
· Adopt, in its entirety, the National Fire Protection Association 1710, a standard for the organization and deployment of fire suppression operations, emergency medical operations and special operations to the public by fire departments.
· Ensure that hiring standards or qualifications are not lowered in either department
“The Tucson Police Department is understaffed for a community our size. Because of cut backs we have had to pull Resource Officers from our schools and we are seeing a spike in crime throughout our community,” said Larry Lopez, President of the Tucson Police Officers Association. This initiative will ensure that we have enough officers on our streets and that our homes, schools and businesses are safe. “
“The crime rate in Tucson for violent crimes was 4103 for 2007,” Lopez continued. “This is much higher than the national average of 466.9. Our proximity to the border means that we’ve seen steadily increased violent crimes due to drugs, firearms smuggling and human trafficking.”
Lopez added that “The national average for police officers per 1000 per capita is 2.8 for cities over 250,000 people according to FBI statistics. Tucson is currently at 1.9. We must gradually increase the force available for deployment to all kinds of emergency situations.”
Brian Delfs, Vice President of the Tucson Firefighters Association said "The Tucson Firefighters are extremely excited about this initiative. Response time is the most critical factor for any fire and emergency medical response department. The national standards contained in 1710 have been carefully researched and prepared to ensure the minimum levels of response times and equipment to adequately answer any fire or emergency medical call.”
“By amending the Tucson City Charter with this initiative, we greatly improve the safety of the average Tucsonan,” said Arnold. And if adopted by voters, the city council would still continue to have the flexibility to staff and compensate at higher levels as they deem necessary.”
Rick Hodges, CEO of the Tucson Association of REALTORS® will serve as treasurer of the Public Safety First Committee. Additional supporters will be announced shortly. The committee must gather at least 9,600 valid signatures of registered City of Tucson voters to qualify for the November ballot.