The Mesa City Council is expected to vote Monday night in favor of building a new Arizona State University campus downtown, but the police union says it would need funding for more officers to provide protection for more visitors.
Mesa Police Association President Nate Gafvert says the department is already stretched thin.
“Our responses to lower priority calls for service are increasing so it takes a lot longer for a police officer to get there and officers are responding a lot of times by themselves and waiting for backup,” says Gafvert.
Gafvert says the Mesa Police Department is down 106 officers from the number in 2008, but in that time, the city’s population has grown. He says the agency is in crisis mode.
“We have approximately 50 people retiring this year that we know about but we only have 40 scheduled recruits to start,” says Gafvert. “You cannot keep adding people and property to a city and diminish the public safety.”Gafvert plans to make his case for police funding Monday night ahead of a council vote on an agreement with the Arizona Board of Regents. The council is expected to approve the agreement so city officials can begin researching the cost to build the campus which ASU will lease from the City.Gafvert believes some of the proposed campus funding could instead be directed to public safety, and he says he’s identified other budget areas that can go towards improving the department.
“The ASU agreement and project is completely separate from pay and staffing of public safety,” said City spokesman, Steven Wright, in an email. “We are in our budget process right now and are in meetings with all departments including police and fire/medical. The City has always worked closely with our public safety departments in building facilities and staffing needs.”
The proposed campus is expected to attract at least 1,500 students to downtown Mesa. A similar plan two years ago failed.
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