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Residents, leaders push for public safety funding

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The City of Phoenix is deep into the process of conducting its annual budget hearings for the proposed $1.22 billion operating budget for Fiscal Year 2016-2017 that includes a potential $50 more a year in property taxes for homeowners. But Laveen residents are clamoring for more attention to public safety needs for their community, something not specifically addressed in the city manager’s proposed Trial Budget.

For Laveen, there is only a single line-item related to the community with this paragraph:

Chavez Park: The Trial Budget also provides operating costs needed to provide additional maintenance and additional soccer field lighting at the Chavez Park expansion at 35th Avenue and Baseline in Laveen.

In the city’s Trial Budget Summary posted online at Phoenix Proposed Budget the community also gets a single mention:

Other significant Capital Improvement Projects in 2016-17 include:

  • Construction of the Laveen Park-and-Ride

Laveen residents are not happy that the city is overlooking one of the growing community’s biggest concerns, which is public safety.

Alison L. Richardson, an active member of the Laveen Meadows Block Watch, has been strongly encouraging residents to voice their concerns at public meetings on the budget, including the one held April 5 at Cesar Chavez High School. She’s posted numerous excerpts about the budget on social media in the region to encourage attendance and support for more patrol officers.

“Although we are doing everything we can with a Phoenix Neighborhood Patrol, active block watches and citizens willing to call in suspicious activity and crime when it happens, we can’t make a difference without sufficient officers to answer our calls,” Richardson said.

Last fall, the Laveen Association of HOAs, released a report showing that there was a 22 percent increase in burglaries in the Laveen area compared with the same period in 2014. There were 370 burglaries through the first part of August, compared 303 through the same period in 2014.

“With all of our home burglaries, the thieves know the cops aren’t going to show up because they don’t have the resources to come out,” Richardson said, adding that response times in the Maryvale-Estrella Mountain Precinct that covers Laveen are some of the slowest in the city.

The LA-HOA report also noted that violent crime in the Laveen area was up 17 percent compared with the same period the previous year. Of the 117 violent crimes reported, there were 67 aggravated assaults, 21 robberies and 29 armed robberies. It was noted that 51st Avenue and Baseline Road area was a hotspot for such crimes and police put together a task force to focus on strong-armed robberies in the vicinity.

Richardson doesn’t expect any of these numbers to improve without budget support for more officers on the street in the community.

“We have maybe six patrol officers for this huge area that stretches from 104th Avenue to 27th Avenue and from the I-10 to south of Dobbins Road, which is not enough,” she said. “On top of that, our detectives and community action officers are being pulled from their regular duties to fill in on patrol. All the officers are working overtime on their days off to make up for the deficit.”

Although there are no more hearings specifically scheduled for Council Districts 7 and 8, which cover the Laveen area, residents can still email the city with their budget concerns by writing to:budget.research@phoenix.gov

Richardson encourages everyone to also copy their respective council members, too, when sending the emails:

Councilwoman and Vice Mayor Kate Gallego, D-8, council.district.7@phoenix.gov

Councilman Michael Nowakowski, D-7, council.district.7@phoenix.gov

Rose Tring is a long-time journalist and owner of AZ Media Maven, a Laveen-based marketing and public relations company. She is also the founder of FinditinLaveen.com, a local business directory and free community calendar. Email her at rose@azmediamaven.com

Laveen Village Voice Blog April 2016

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