Three months after East Valley police chiefs formed a nonprofit association focused on resource sharing, the group is still working on opening a central recruit-testing facility and developing a single helicopter unit.
“I think the biggest challenge for all of us is there’s not much in the way of money,” said Chandler Police Chief Sherry Kiyler, who heads up the East Valley Police Chiefs Association.
Kiyler and chiefs from Mesa, Gilbert, Scottsdale, Apache Junction, Arizona State University, Paradise Valley and two Indian communities have formed a working committee to look at the cost of creating a special air unit that would provide police helicopters throughout the East Valley.
Mesa and Phoenix police departments and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office are the only local agencies with helicopters, and they all share them free of charge.
“We’re looking at the most efficient and economical way to do what we do,” Kiyler said.
The group also hopes to save money by creating a privately contracted central testing facility for anyone wanting to become a police officer. Kiyler said the facility would save money for the departments since recruits commonly test at multiple agencies anyway.
Officials hope to open the facility by June, but only Scottsdale, Chandler and Mesa would use it. Tempe Police Chief Tom Ryff said he doesn’t want to send recruits to a common place for testing.
“We think there’s a lot to be said for the first day they come in to test to have a chance to look at them and talk with them and interact with employees,” Ryff said. “If you went to a central testing location, you lose that interaction out front.”
Ryff said he personally appears at each test to greet candidates.
Other ideas the association’s chiefs are currently examining are privatized jails, streamlining the process of arresting people with warrants in other cities and creating consistent police codes.
The group has formed committees of police supervisors to look into each of these ideas —— the pros, cons and costs — to find out what would be best for everyone.
“Is there a better answer in the East Valley that could cut our time, cut resources and cost less than what we currently pay?” Kiyler asked.