Queen Creek will double its law enforcement coverage, including the addition of a fulltime detective, as soon as the town can obtain a second law enforcement vehicle.
The Queen Creek Town Council voted 7-0 Wednesday to increase Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department service from the current one beat — the equivalent of one deputy on duty 24 hours a day — to two beats.
The service will add $500,000 to $600,000 to the town’s annual law enforcement costs, Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department Lt. Ed Shepherd said. The town’s cost for a single beat in fiscal year 2003-04 is $528,000.
Shepherd did not say when the additional personnel would be available, but he said the county would move as fast as possible to add deputies.
He said the longest wait likely would be to obtain a specialized police vehicle. Although Queen Creek has the money to buy the vehicle — taken from the town’s general fund reserve — Shepherd said such cars are in short supply and take time to purchase.
Queen Creek has a relatively low crime rate — nearly half that of neighboring Mesa — but town officials said more law enforcement coverage will be needed as the town grows.
The council also is considering a $60,000 study to determine its crime-fighting needs for the next 10 years. The town staff has recommended using Virginia-based Carroll Buracker & Associates, which recently completed an internal audit of the Apache Junction Police Department, but other firms will be considered.
The Town Council also approved the formation of a task force to recommend when additional services are needed.
Although the town has a full-time community officer and one full beat of patrol deputies, Shepherd said they need more time to enforce speed limits, fill out paperwork and community outreach.
Although serious crimes such as murder and robbery are relatively uncommon in Queen Creek, Shepherd said deputies are often tied up for hours dealing with arguments between neighbors.
"There’s some longstanding neighbor disputes going on out there that you would not believe," he said.