If the police helicopter buzzing above your home late at night is owned by a city other than the one in which you live, does that make its mission any less important, or less relevant to the safety of your community?
We believe residents would say no, and they would welcome the additional resources at the disposal of their police department to help track down crime suspects or locate missing children.
The recently formed East Valley Police Chiefs Association, a coalition of 11 public safety leaders covering Scottsdale and Paradise Valley south to the Gila River Indian Community and east to Apache Junction, are working on plans to formalize and expand the sharing of department assets such as helicopters, training facilities and driving tracks. This is a taxpayer money-saver we would welcome at any point in time, let alone one when the use of the phrase "cash-strapped city" can mean someplace other than Mesa.
Mesa Police Chief George Gascón, who says the idea of asset-sharing is already paying off through the East Valley Gang and Crime Information Fusion Center, told us this week that formalizing the sharing of existing resources not only helps budget matters in the short term, but also attracts more aid from the state and federal governments, as it expects more bang per buck.
That said, this will require some degree of public education as well, as residents who have absorbed the previous “fiefdom” mentality many departments have begin to deal with officers from the next town over. This is already happening with ventures such as DUI task forces, which created the recent situation of a Glibert patrol officer arresting a Mexican tourist in Mesa, with Gascón getting involved after the first complaint was made to his department.
Aside from the creation of a joint aviation unit, most of the collaboration being discussed by the chiefs are behind-the-scenes actions involving training and crime labs. But with this sensible cooperation, more overlap will be inevitable, and once the public understands this, that cooperation will extend even further.