DESERT RIDGE OFF DUTY PROGRAM/ONLINE POSTINGS

Now that the holiday season is behind us and we are back into the grind of work, school, kid’s activities and more we can look forward to another year of working together to make Desert Ridge one of the safest communities in Phoenix. In this article I am going to touch on an issue that is not only specific to Desert Ridge but other communities that I serve and also provide some feedback on Desert Ridge’s off duty police patrol program.

Officer Timothy Mitten

Community Action Officer

Phoenix Police Department

Black Mountain Precinct

A topic which I would like to briefly mention that is not only for Desert Ridge but all the communities I serve is about online crime information. With an area of about 90,000 residents and almost twenty master planned or other communities assigned to me, I do my best to stay informed of what is occurring in each neighborhood but I do not spend time monitoring online neighborhood websites or apps for crime information. The prolific use of online websites or apps to stay informed of events or crime in a neighborhood is a good way to stay informed to a certain extent. I have always stressed to every resident in my areas to stay aware of your neighborhood and report suspicious activity and if you have a question or concern about what is or has occurred in your area to contact me.

There have been several instances over the past couple years of crime or suspect information being posted online and shared that is inaccurate. These postings have good intent, which is to share information to fellow residents of potential risks in their area. The downside is that generally they are inaccurate as they have limited facts about the situation or are embellished. These can then cause panic or could potentially lead to false accusations on people. If you see a crime reported online or elsewhere, see an online blog posting or hear from someone about a crime in your area, and you want to know about it or if there is a threat to the general public, please contact me and I can verify the information. In any case of a suspect who would be a threat to the general public, myself or our Public Affairs Officer would send out information using a variety of media. Many times I can send out an email blast through the HOA to advise of certain situations or potential suspects.

In October of 2011, your management company and community managers came to me with an idea about increasing safety in the Desert Ridge residential community. The idea was to have additional patrols in the residential neighborhoods from Phoenix police officers in marked police vehicles. These patrols would be officers hired in an “off duty” capacity or to define further, paid for by the HOA but still acting as full fledged police officers in uniform and in marked City of Phoenix police vehicles. This is in addition to the regular patrol service you would get from the patrol officers who work the area.

This program was started on December 1, 2011 and the main focus of the program is to deter burglaries, thefts and stolen vehicles while also being a visible presence in the Desert Ridge Community. The area of responsibility for the officers is for all of the residential communities in Desert Ridge. Any resident who needs police assistance is to still call 911 or Crime Stop at 602-262-6151 to have officers dispatched out to their residence. The off duty officers listen to the calls being dispatched and will respond accordingly but keep in mind that off duty officers will not always be working, this is not a 24/7 assignment so please still call 911 or Crime Stop.

In the next magazine I will be publishing the actual crime stats for the Desert Ridge community but in the five years of the program there have been great decreases in all aspects of crime and especially property crime. While no program or prevention is perfect, as crime will always occur, the program has been successful and has kept to its original purpose. This past year, your Board of Directors voted to increase the number of shifts and the hours we work in the community in order to maintain these gains and also to have greater coverage. The program has had many successes from the beginning which has included several arrests for burglaries in progress, occupied stolen vehicles, drug use and possession, DUI and more.

The main aspect of the program though is to increase officer presence in the community and while you may not always see the officers, they are there in every part of Desert Ridge. The officers also do vacation watches on houses for residents, make educational contacts on open garages or other things they see. Please continue to maintain your vigilance of activity in your community and report any suspicious activity to Crime Stop or crimes in progress to 911. We have had some successes but the unfortunate side of law enforcement is that there are more criminals out there and we must continue our efforts to deter and arrest them.

Here are a few numbers from the past year on what the officers did in your community.

Shifts Worked:            376

Hours Worked:           1,700

Miles Driven:  16,709

Calls For Service:         460

Arrests:            3

Citations:        16

Reports:           14

Field Interrogations:   19

Educational Contacts: 1,146

Vacation Watches:      2,948

This is a valued partnership and we are committed here at the Phoenix Police Department to helping keep your community safe and to improve the quality of life for you and your neighborhood. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach me directly at 602-495-5238 or at tim.mitten@phoenix.gov .