Mesa police chief: Crime is dropping - East Valley Tribune: News

Mesa police chief: Crime is dropping

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Posted: Tuesday, July 1, 2008 12:08 pm | Updated: 11:13 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Mesa's overall crime rate has decreased by more than 15 percent in the past two years. And although the city's violent crimes have risen more than any other East Valley city, the overall odds that a Mesa resident will be victimized is on the decline.

VIDEO: Police Chief Gascón talks about Mesa's crime stats

Mesa's overall crime rate has decreased by more than 15 percent in the past two years. And although the city's violent crimes have risen more than any other East Valley city, the overall odds that a Mesa resident will be victimized is on the decline.

Mesa sees rise in violent crime rate in 2007

At a news conference Tuesday at Mesa police headquarters, Chief George Gascón updated the community on crime statistics and ongoing programs in Mesa, but he still acknowledged that there is more work to be done.

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"Compared with other major cities around the U.S., we still have a long way to go," Gascón said.

In 2007, about 48 of every 1,000 Mesa residents were victims of a serious crime. Gascón's goal is to reduce that number to 43 this year. Certain major U.S. cities, such as Los Angeles and New York, have lower numbers than Mesa.

Along with the drop in most crimes has come a reduction in spending. Mesa police have cut back 27 percent on overtime this year. The total savings amounts to more than $1 million, according to a report released by Mesa police.

Some officers on the street feel frustrated by the lack of overtime pay, but Gascón said a pay raise of 5 percent became effective Tuesday. He also said he has provided his officers with better training in use of force and more weapons.

"Is it perfect? Obviously not," Gascón said. "We're not always going to satisfy everyone."

Still, he said he wants his department to "be a good citizen" and to be fiscally responsible. One way he's trying to cut back is through creating a Civilian Investigative Specialist position, which would save money on police pensions and could offer better customer service to residents who become victims of property crimes.

Gascón said he doesn't want to see important city resources like parks, arts and libraries disappear to pay for policing.

"The reality is that if our kids in the summertime have nowhere to go ... eventually those kids are going to go out and commit crimes," Gascón said.

Other details mentioned include a nearly 38 percent increase in arrests for serious crimes since 2006, a 52 percent decrease in fatal car crashes and a total of 388 arrests in multiagency special operations.

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