Trust-building forum in AF airs complaints about Phoenix police - Ahwatukee Foothills News: News

Trust-building forum in AF airs complaints about Phoenix police

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Posted: Friday, August 27, 2010 11:00 am | Updated: 8:16 am, Thu Dec 2, 2010.

Michele Michaels says that since her friend's central Phoenix home was burglarized Aug. 13, she's watched some of the stolen items go up for auction on eBay.

"We still don't know what's going on. I watched two of the items get auctioned off last night," Michaels said during a summit Monday evening on how the Phoenix Police Department can build community trust, in Ahwatukee Foothills at the Pecos Community Center, 17010 S. 48th St.

"It is unique items that you rarely find," she said.

Michaels said she's frustrated with the department's property crimes division, and that there has been almost no communication.

"Is this an unrealistic expectation, that there would be more communication? That more would be happening?" Michaels asked. "We see the stuff going away. We'd like to get it back. But the communication is just not there."

The summit was one of six conducted across the Valley in recent weeks by the Phoenix Community Engagement and Outreach Task Force, which was created in the spring to develop an action plan to "increase confidence that Phoenix police will treat all people with respect, dignity and professionalism." About 20 people attended the meeting in Ahwatukee Foothills.

"Our purpose tonight is to listen and go back and share with the city manager and City Council," said Gerald Richard, the task force member who chaired the meeting.

Christopher Gentis, a retired Phoenix police lieutenant who now serves on the Ahwatukee Foothills Village Planning Committee and the Ahwatukee Board of Management, said he's been unable to get the department to take seriously a citizen's complaint filed by his daughter against a police officer. The complaint had to do with the officer's response when Gentis' daughter complained of harassment by a neighbor.

"(The officer) was rude to her. He wasn't responsive," Gentis said. "I can't get a complaint investigated when I know the system."

Sgt. Trent Crump, a police department spokesman, said it's up to the task force to separate the facts from emotion, and to make a recommendation.

"We felt we dealt with it, but if the task force feels differently, that's what they were put together to do," Crump said.

Another audience member, Cheryl Dumpert, questioned if police officers patrolling Ahwatukee are using their time efficiently.

"I just want to know that my tax dollars are being used appropriately," Dumpert said. "How many people do we have patrolling Ahwatukee at one time?"

Lt. Mark Tallman, a Phoenix Police Department spokesman, said officers are allowed a 45-minute lunch break and two additional 15-minute breaks.

"Keep in mind, these officers work 10-hour shifts," he said. "Even when they're eating, they're still on duty."

William Robinson said he'd like police to do more about speeders in his neighborhood.

"I live in the Desert Foothills area, and I'd like to see more police cars patrolling my neighborhood," he said.

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