Crime is down in Ahwatukee Foothills and, according to local police, the community deserves a “thank you.”
Block Watch programs are popping up all over Ahwatukee Foothills. They work with the police and the Phoenix Neighborhood Patrol (PNP) to help educate the community and prevent crime. Their efforts appear to be paying off as almost all areas of crime in Ahwatukee have seen a dramatic decrease.
One example of the hefty drop in crime is auto theft. During the first six months of 2008 there were a reported 167 auto thefts in the Foothills area, but during the first six months of 2009 there were only 69.
Officer Rick Tamburo and Sgt. Scott McCauley both attribute a majority of the success in the fight against crime to public education among the community.
“Block Watches and the community involvement has been a huge help in driving crime down.” McCauley said.
“I think by making them aware of a) what’s going on and b) how it’s happening, you can prevent them from becoming a victim,” Tamburo added.
Community action officers like Tamburo and McCauley are working with Ahwatukee Block Watch programs in the areas of communication, prevention and awareness. One example of this is the “PD Tukee Talks” a Block Watch idea that allows the community time with the officers. These forums are open to all and help officers address concerns of the community, as well as permit them to give safety advice.
“We asked if we could have more involvement with the officers,” said A.J. Wells, co-chair of the city-wide Block Watch Advisory Board.
According to Wells, communication between neighborhoods and police is becoming stronger.
“We are finally getting there,” Wells said, “It’s like getting a locomotive started – the wheels are rolling slowly.”
This forward movement of communication is a key to the Ahwatukee Foothills’ decrease of crime. During the holidays community action officers ask the different Block Watch and PNP programs to help them patrol high traffic areas, like shopping centers, according to Wells.
Because officers have such a large area to cover they appreciate tips from the community. McCauley mentioned the simple act of calling the police when something suspicious is going on. They do not expect nor condone civilians becoming confrontational, but a call always helps.
In fact, one of the things the PNP does is teaches people how to be more observant and better witnesses. The PNP is a police-sponsored outreach of the basic Block Watch. It requires eight hours of certification but, once finished, helps people make a presence. The two main rules of the PNP are to avoid confrontation and never patrol alone. They do not want to cause any more trouble for the already busy police.
“You can go out and make a physical presence in your neighborhood,” Wells said about the PNP. “It’s all about layers of protection.”
Continued community awareness is essential. If people grow too lax with their community involvement they cannot expect crime to stay down.
According to Phoenix.gov, theft seems to be the area with the most crime in Ahwatukee Foothills. Combating this problem calls for community involvement. Police could drive past a person in a neighborhood and think nothing of it, but a person who lives in that neighborhood might know something different and sense something is amiss, according to Wells.
“(The police) cannot know everyone in our neighborhood; this is the advantage of community involvement,” Wells said. “Communicating, that’s basically what we do.”
The next PD Tukee Talk is Nov. 12 at the Pecos Police Sub Station; it begins at 6:30 p.m. for any and all interested in protecting their neighborhood.
Brandi Bell is interning this semester for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. She is a sophomore at Arizona State University.