Mesa has its own police helicopter and forensic crime lab, while Chandler plans to buy its own police driving track.
But if the newly formed East Valley Police Chiefs Association follows through with its plans, all East Valley agencies would share such items.
“One of the things that we all recognize is that we’re operating under very tight fiscal times,” said Mesa police Chief George Gascón, vice-chairman of the association. “There are things we can do better if we resource-pool and there are things we can accomplish for a significantly lower cost.”
The East Valley Police Chiefs Association is made up of chiefs Sherry Kiyler of Chandler, Tom Ryff of Tempe, Gascón, Tim Dorn of Gilbert, Alan Rodbell of Scottsdale, John Pickens of Arizona State University police and Interim Chief Thomas Kelly of Apache Junction, as well as chiefs from Gila River Indian Community, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community and Paradise Valley.
On Jan. 9, the group gained nonprofit status, said Kiyler, who is heading up the association. Its nonprofit status means it can collect dues and keep money in place for training, hiring advisers and other needs, Kiyler said. No one will be paid to run the association.
The group’s first success was creating the East Valley Gang and Crime Information Fusion Center, a facility located in Mesa where agencies can gather to combat serious crime.
Other issues on the table include establishing a regional police helicopter air unit, sharing training facilities and crime labs and a creating a joint police recruit testing center.
“This is a group that, in my opinion, has become very cohesive very quickly and we’re accomplishing things very quickly,” Gascón said.
The cost to each voting member will be $200 per year and $100 per year for associates, such as federal officials who attend meetings, according to the group’s bylaws. The cities of Tempe and Chandler will foot the bill for their chiefs to participate. But although it’s common practice for cities to pay dues for professional associations, Gascón said he’s not yet sure how his dues will be paid.
Ted Miller, director of the nonprofit Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, calls resource-sharing a good idea.
“It means that they can take more of the money that’s available for policing and use it for effective strategies because there’s some things that they aren’t paying for individually,” Miller said.
He added, “If we buy one helicopter instead of four, maybe we can put three police officers on the street ... or more.”
Although the group of chiefs has become highly organized with bylaws, dues and regular meetings, the concept was in the works for a while, the chiefs said.
Kiyler, who became Chandler’s chief nearly four years ago, said she has tried to create a formal group for years and even attended a West Valley Police Chiefs Association meeting to help model the East Valley version. She was chosen chair by the other chiefs.
“We’re trying to avoid duplications of effort ... really sharing ideas and sharing efforts,” Dorn said.
Ryff echoed his sentiments.
“Nothing can beat the relationship that you have to know that I can pick up the phone and call another agency,” Ryff said.
The group wouldn’t allow the Tribune to attend a meeting, nor will it allow the public inside its six annual gatherings. Kiyler cited policy that protects the sharing of sensitive information.