2020 and a New Decade of Crime Prevention/Quality of Life

The new year and a new decade are upon us, bringing in the promise of new beginnings, new generations, a Presidential election season and so much more. With everything that is going on in the world, the United States, Arizona and in Phoenix we should all focus in on positive steps we can take and go forward to make our communities a better place and to face these challenges as informed and knowledgeable citizens. I encourage all citizens to exercise their rights outlined in the Constitution of the United States and embrace them as positive change can’t occur if not everyone is heard from regarding the challenges we face. We need to rise above the noise and focus on the important issues of the times to improve this community for everyone.

One way to help do this is in your own immediate neighborhood. Your neighborhood and community are one of the most important aspects of your life and your family. You choose a neighborhood based on many things: schools, proximity to work or activities, friends or family, the style of the home, sales price and, figured somewhere in that equation, safety. The safety of neighborhoods and everyone in that community is our responsibility at the Phoenix Police Department. We take great pride in serving and protecting you and working to improve the quality of life in your neighborhood.

In the center of that commitment is the Phoenix Police Departments Community Based Philosophy which will be now entering its fourth decade. There have been many changes in this approach and each one of them is meant to foster the communication and partnerships we share between the Police Department and the communities we serve to ensure the safety of our residents while providing professional law enforcement services.

One of these improvements is the use of body worn cameras by each officer in the patrol division. These cameras are a technology that law enforcement across the country is using to ensure residents that an accurate and true representation of incidents and contacts are made. Officers make thousands of contacts every day, answer thousands of calls for service and interact with residents in a variety of functions. These cameras will allow departments and citizens to see exactly what occurred with each contact and will protect both citizens and officers. The Phoenix Police Department is committed to being transparent with each incident and these cameras will help us achieve that goal.
Another aspect of building a better community and improving the quality of life is crime prevention. I have written many articles on the various aspects of preventing crime, from burglary, auto theft, identity theft, drug prevention and so on, all to help each one of you protect yourself and your family as much as possible. We as police officers are your partners in this endeavor and will be there when you call and when you don’t call, out patrolling the streets of your neighborhood as you sleep, work or enjoy time with your family. We do need your help and your commitment to improve your community because it is a partnership between the police and citizens; we have the same goal and we can achieve it by working together.

How can we do that is a question I get often. Many of you have started a Block Watch in your area, which is a very good way to learn and practice good crime prevention at your home and get to know your neighbors. Knowing your neighbors is at the top of the list when I teach Block Watch. I am not asking you to know every detail of your neighbors lives but knowing what I call your “primary” neighbors. These are the ones next to you and the three across the street from you and knowing just the minimum amount of information (at least their names and a good way to communicate with them, either phone numbers or email address) will go a long way in preventing some types of neighborhood crime. Knowing what suspicious activity for your neighborhood is, knowing your children’s friends and their parents in the neighborhood also helps in building a better community, this was a staple of many neighborhoods in the past and it does exist today, but to a lesser degree.

There is a common theme in most crime prevention and that is communication and awareness –  communicate with your kids, your neighbors, your kids’ schools and your police department. If you see something suspicious in your neighborhood, call Crime Stop at 602-262-6151 or for crimes in progress, 911. I am contacted numerous times asking if I am aware of something going on in a neighborhood. With a city of 1.6 million and an area of responsibility for me of 85 square miles and 90,000 people, it is sometimes difficult for me to hear of everything going on, but I do keep in contact with all the communities I serve as much as possible so that I may respond with the needed resources to address whatever issue comes up.

Another issue or question that comes up that I am asked to address is the driving habits of residents in their neighborhoods, specifically the speed of vehicles. The speed limits are set by the Streets and Transportation Department of the City of Phoenix and are done in conjunction with the type of roadway it is classified as, such as residential, collector or arterial. These speed limits are set for you and your family’s safety and the safety of other drivers on the road. Poor driving habits can be the result of many things but the disregard for obeying the speed limit usually comes down to inattention, being in a hurry or even the feeling that it’s just a suggestion or guideline and that drivers knows how fast they feel comfortable driving.

Let’s all exercise our rights and be more involved in the future of this country, state and city. Let’s challenge each other to communicate more effectively with the purpose of improving our community. Let’s try and see how we can learn more about the neighborhoods we live in by watching out for each other and by just looking around when we are out walking or even just driving to and from our homes. Let’s challenge each other by obeying the traffic laws and paying attention to our habits on the road.
I am committed to helping each one of the neighborhoods I serve to improve their quality of life so if you have any questions or comments, I can be reached at 602-495-5238 or at tim.mitten@phoenix.gov. Thanks again for being involved in your community and partnering with the Phoenix Police Department to help improve the quality of life and safety of your neighborhood.