Adriana Chairez and Margo Susco, two local business women, held a nine-hour rally to support law enforcement near downtown's Ronstadt Center on Wednesday, July 13.
Concerned with what they viewed as the general lack of support for police both at the national and local levels after the murder of five police officers in Dallas, the women were convinced that now is the time to show appreciation for the work that the police perform on behalf of their communities.
Susco said that though the local officials profess support for Tucson Police Department, the actions of those officials do not reflect that rhetoric. Both Susco and Chairez share the opinion that TPD police officers have been asked to do more and more, extending duties beyond those of traditional law enforcement—providing water to homeless people, for example—without a concomitant increase in resources.
Some ongoing problems include police compensation and equipment.
A pattern has developed in which TPD officers are recruited, sent through the academy, then after a couple of years are "poached" by neighboring jurisdictions, which offer higher wages and benefits. Tucson makes the investment, neighboring jurisdictions reap the majority of the benefits. This would appear to cost the City of Tucson more than would a substantial increase in wages.
New TPD officers receive body armor (vests) upon completion of their academy training, but they degrade over time and need to be replaced after five years. TPD does not supply replacement the body armor. The officers must pay for them out of their $640 annual equipment allowance, which is used for the purchase of gear including vests, service weapons, restraints, etc. With quality armor often costing in excess of $1,000, officers are faced with yet more tough choices. The Tucson Police Foundation does help with replacing expired armor.
There was a brief counter to the women's message which consisted of a few young men chanting "Fuck the police!" from across the street, but after a little conversation and more than a little water provided by the women, the young men had a change of heart and abandoned their efforts.
Jonathan Hoffman is the Weekly's resident libertarian columnist.