Monday, July 11, 2022

Is Public Safety An Election Issue?

Is Oro Valley public safety an election issue?
It is. According to Candidate Danny Sharp, Oro Valley is not as safe as it once was.

It is not.  According to Candidate and current Mayor Joe Winfield, Oro Valley is the safest community in Arizona.
The differences in their thinking were “front and center” at the Greater Oro Valley Chamber Candidate Forum of June 28.

Mayoral Candidate Danny Sharp believes that public safety isn’t as good as it was and isn’t good enough
Danny Sharp made it clear at the forum on two occasions that Public Safety in Oro Valley is not good enough. In his opening remarks, Sharp noted: “When I am elected Mayor I will work to restore public trust by getting the Police Department the staffing needed to address the safety issues in our community and the threats looming from outside.”

Later in the forum, when asked how Oro Valley will be different in four years of his leadership, Sharp said that Oro Valley will be safer: “We talk about Oro Valley being the safest community in the state. Those are based on figures from 2020. I’m concerned about the fact that we don’t have enough police officers to do the job. I’m concerned about the vision that this Mayor and Council has given the police department so we can be understaffed to the point where we have to pull high school resource officers out of our high school. I drive up and down Oracle Road, Tangerine, LaCholla and I don’t see any police cars. I don’t see traffic stops. I see speeders. I see red light runners. I see tailgating in my rear view mirror.

The town is not as safe as it was.. People cant’t go to Riverfront Park and go for a walk without their Catalytic Converter being stolen. Or breaking out their window and stealing their purse. That’s not a safe community”. 

Sharp said that public safety will be a top priority if elected.

Candidate Joe Winfield disagrees: Oro Valley is safe because Chief Riley and her team are getting the job done.
Joe Winfield asserted at the forum that Oro Valley continues to be the safest community in Arizona. He points to FBI statistics and crime scores. He noted that Chief Kara Riley was twice voted best community leader. He noted that Oro Valley has more police per capita than Marana, Tucson and Sahuarita and pays its police officers more than any other town.

According to Winfield, to say that Oro Valley is not safe is a disservice to Chief Riley, the command staff, and the 103 men and women to put their lives on the line every day in service to the community.

Some added information
Three points of information for you to consider. First, the above panel shows the latest publicly reported crime statistics.

Second, in May, Chief Riley addressed the council. As we reported at that time, the objective of the Oro Valley Police Department (OVPD) is to be the best police agency in Arizona. The department is adding four positions in fiscal 2023. Two of these positions are officer positions. One of the four positions will free an officer for field work. That is a net increase of three field officers. Chief Riley stated at that time that the added positions she requested in this year’s budget was everything the department needs to meet its objective.

Third, in June, the OVPD was again acknowledged for excellence. “Special recognition and congratulations goes to Chief Riley and her entire PD Team for successfully completing the Arizona Law Enforcement Accreditation Program (ALEAP). The department was found in compliance with the 170 established standards and will be recommended for accreditation at the next ALEAP Commission meeting, with final approval expected. Oro Valley joins 20 other agencies across the state with this accreditation.” (Source: Town Manager’s Executive Report To Council, July 2022)

You be the judge 
Whether you agree with Danny Sharp’s observations or Joe Winfield’s facts, it is clear that the approaches to public safety of the two will be very different. 

Joe Winfield has been “hands off” when it comes to the OVPD. The OVPD has operated without his direct involvement. He has expressed his confidence in Chief Riley and the police force on numerous occasion. He will not “second guess” her judgment. We expect this behavior to continue. 

A Mayor Sharp will have a more “hands on” role when it comes to the OVPD. How involving that role becomes is yet to be determined.
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