The Phoenix Police Department has made some changes to officer assignments recently in order to do more with a continually shrinking department. In Ahwatukee Foothills about a third of the officers are new to the area.
The department recently went through what they call a rebid.
“They are done as needed for staffing alignments,” said Sgt. Trent Crump, spokesman for the Phoenix Police Department. “As officers transfer, retire or promote, etc., we need a way to balance manpower that shifts. Yes, we used to take care of this with new hires as much as we could but now that we don’t have anyone new coming in the door we have to accomplish it in other ways.”
The last rebid was done in 2010 after the department opened two new precincts.
Out of Ahwatukee’s 57 officers, 18 are new. Three of eight sergeants are new and there is one new lieutenant. While the officers may be new to the area, none are new to the department.
Lt. Lowell Spalla has been with the Phoenix Police Department for 23 years. He spent time on patrol in Maryvale and the Central City Precinct and has worked at the police academy in the past. Spalla has also worked in the gang squad, Family Investigations Bureau investigating adult sex crimes, and in the special investigations unit that handles all criminal allegations involving city employees. Now, Spalla will help look over the South Mountain Precinct at night.
“So far things are really good,” Spalla said. “I’m very impressed with the quality of supervisors and officers in this precinct. They seem to be very in tune to the needs of citizens, not only here in Ahwatukee but in South Phoenix as well. From what I’ve seen in almost four weeks there are some very good people out here.”
Spalla said at nights he sees mostly complaints of trespassing or suspicious activity, loud music and domestic violence, but that overall Ahwatukee is a very quiet area.
Sgt. Joel Tranter is new to patrol in Ahwatukee but he’s been a resident since 1990. With more than 27 years with the Phoenix Police Department, Tranter said his experience in Ahwatukee is that it’s one of the safest areas in the city.
“Every community has its issues and Ahwatukee is no different,” he said. “We do have some issues as every community does. We have some property crimes and robberies. Domestic violence is present as well. But, it’s a beautiful area to work… It’s a safe community and a good community. I hope I can bring my experience and my law enforcement expertise and knowledge of the department and what resources we have and don’t have to maintain that level of safety.”
Tranter began his career with the Phoenix Police Department at the Sky Harbor Precinct. From there he became a motorcycle officer before he was promoted to a sergeant and spent time at the Desert Horizon Precinct. In 1998, when the city developed the Family Investigation Bureau, he went there for two years before going back to motorcycle patrol.
Tranter was a public information officer, or spokesman, for the department, from 2006 to 2008, which he said allowed him to have a hand in all the city’s major investigations. Most recently he worked in the Deer Valley Air Port supervising flights and regularly flying in helicopters. When the chance came to do patrol in his own community, Tranter said he jumped at the opportunity.
“Ahwatukee is a great community,” he said. “I mountain bike and hike down here. Now, I get to keep up my end on the law enforcement side to keep it a great community.”
Tranter and Spalla both said the biggest challenge they anticipate is the level of staffing, which is a problem department-wide. While the number of officers patrolling Ahwatukee did not change, it’s still down from its peak levels. The department has no plans to hire until 2015.
Crump said response times, calls for service, and many other factors are taken into consideration whenever a rebid happens, but besides some new faces the community shouldn’t notice any difference. The changes took effect last month.
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