Stepping into Chandler’s mayoral race, the union representing the city’s rankand-file police officers issued a warning Thursday of understaffing and outdated communication systems.
Accompanying that alarm was the Arizona Police Association’s endorsement of Vice Mayor Phill Westbrooks, who is challenging Mayor Boyd Dunn. Also receiving the union’s backing were City Council candidates Becky Jackson, Frank Peake and Chris Stage.
The election will be March 14, with early voting beginning Thursday.
“Under the current mayor’s leadership,” Westbrooks said, “he has promoted the poor planning and lack of vision in regards to Chandler police services.”
According to the Chandler Law Enforcement Association, the city lags behind Mesa, Tempe and Scottsdale in terms of officers in numbers and per capita. Because of that, union president, Paul Babeu said, Chandler’s average response time to calls is more than six minutes, when the goal is five.
Babeu said the department’s obsolete radio system means there are some parts of the city where officers cannot effectively communicate with dispatchers.
“We need help to do our job,” Babeu said. “We’re calling publicly for a greater commitment by our elected leaders.”
The union is calling for the immediate hiring of 30 officers and four detention officers, plus the replacement of the radio system. In 2007, another 30 officers should be hired.
Westbrooks said he wants 40 officers hired over the next two years.
In response to the endorsement, Dunn pointed out he already has the backing of other public safety organizations, such as the department’s lieutenants and sergeants, the Fraternal Order of Police and the city firefighter union.
“I have a long record of supporting public safety,” Dunn said.