Dear Mayor Romero and Members of the Tucson City Council,
Many Tucsonans are understandably concerned for their safety and have been subject to growing crime rates over the past few years. Violent crime rates are almost double the national average and property theft more than doubles the national average.
Tucson has seen a surge in gun violence, with non-fatal gun incidents increasing 25% in 2022 compared to the previous year. Also in 2022, Tucson saw a record number of homicides at 75 – up drastically from 49 homicides in 2019.
As of August 2023, there is already an increase of sexual assaults by 35% compared to 2022. These crimes routinely disproportionately victimize women.
Furthermore, minority communities are disproportionately bearing the brunt of violent crime. In 2022, 38% of all homicide victims in Pima County were Hispanic, 15% were African-American, and 12% were American Indian. In fact, Tucson is one of the cities with the highest number of missing and murdered American Indian women and girls.
Unfortunately, these statistics do not give Tucson residents confidence in their law enforcement and city leaders, and certainly do not represent a positive trajectory in securing public safety.
Crime affects every area in a city like Tucson and considerably reduces the probability of a flourishing society. Tucson residents should not fear for their lives when they leave for work every morning or when they go grocery shopping for their families.
This environment is not conducive for raising a family, or favorable for businesses, and is undoubtedly a serious barrier working against citizens in their pursuit of the American Dream. To curb the violence and increase the viability of local law enforcement agencies, proactive policing must be supported, encouraged, and funded.
We commend your efforts to attempt to tackle this issue via increased funding for the Tucson Police Department and recognize the new federal initiative that is aimed to curb violent crime. And despite years of understaffing and marginal pay, the Tucson Police Department has certainly made improvements.
However, we believe there are more effective ways to reduce crime. Tucson has struggled severely with hiring police officers, which has led to exceptionally long response times. Research indicates that adding 10-17 officers to a police department is enough to prevent one murder, while reducing other violent crimes. Higher wages for police officers have also been proven to boost police performance.
And while the grant for small business owners may potentially help some prevent theft, the onus should fall on the government to prevent crime from occurring – not business owners.
Therefore, we urge you to not only increase funding for police, but more importantly, allocate those funds directly to hiring additional officers and increasing their salaries. We also ask that you lobby state lawmakers to offer similar policies at the state level.
Tucson’s suburbs of Oro Valley, Marana, and Sahuarita are perfect examples. Those towns have kept up with staffing and salaries, and in turn, are among the safest communities in Arizona.
Every life is priceless. The most important role for government is to ensure its people are protected. Without public safety, Americans’ freedom and opportunities are limited – two pillars that make this country the greatest in the world. By preventing crime, Tucsonans can have safer streets and brighter futures.
We appreciate your willingness and dedication to the people of Tucson and your attention to this issue. Like you, we share the common goal of saving lives and property in Tucson by lowering the crime rate. We understand it can be challenging, but it is our hope that you will take the research we have cited in this letter and implement our recommendations.
We stand ready to work toward accomplishing the goal of ensuring safer streets and brighter futures for all citizens.
We look forward to hearing from you.