On Monday, former Tucson Police spokesman, Officer Brandon Tatum, revealed the deteriorated condition of the Department’s morale and ability to respond to citizens’ needs. Tatum, who was hired away from the Department this month by a top internet publishing company, addressed the failing conditions in an interview on the James T. Harris radio show.
“It is bad,” said Tatum when asked about morale in the Department. “Now that I’m not a part of it, I feel comfortable speaking out about it, but man if you ask police officers who are on the front line, boots on the ground, taking calls every day, it is not a good situation at all.”
“In my opinion – of course I worked in one division – the morale is terrible. The morale is low. We were seeing officers not coming to work; calling in sick, taking vacation time, at alarming rates.” Because of this, said Tatum, “at times you will see squads put out two people on one shift.”
Tatum said the morale and lack of officers is something that “no one wants to talk about.”
“I think that we have the ability to call people out from their homes and help out. We can hold people over on shifts. So, we do the best we can to have coverage, which is costing the City money because people are going to be on overtime,” explained Tatum.
As hard as the officers try to do what they can with the little they have, according to Tatum, calls for service are going unanswered due to a shortage of personnel. “It’s getting worse,” said Tatum. “I’m afraid that it’s going to get so bad it’s not going to be controllable.”
Tatum described arriving at work and finding that 30 to 40 calls for service were yet to be responded to. He reported that some victims wait up to ten hours before an officer can respond to their call. “We’re talking about people, who have been waiting for us to respond for 10 hours. I’m talking about people that have been burglarized – and this is the one that makes me so upset. If someone burglarizes your house you feel violated. Somebody came into your house and you have stuff laying everywhere -evidence – and we don’t have enough officers to come to your house in a reasonable period of time.”
“We have probably the best trained police officers. The most equipped police officers. As individuals these are great men and women doing the best they can,” said Tatum. “We are just stretched too thin.”
Harris asked Tatum about Police Chief Chris Magnus, who is rumored to be hostile towards the officers and employs questionable promotion practices. “He doesn’t care about morale. He’s going to do what he’s going to do. He doesn’t care, and I can tell you that I can’t think of one officer I know, that agrees with him. I don’t know of one officer – boots on the ground – that respects him. Of course I’m in one division, so I’m going to keep it in perspective, but I don’t know anyone who respects him. None of us wanted him as police chief. We wanted Malik Aziz from Dallas, and so a lot of us feel that we got spit in the face by the City Council when they hired him and gave him a $20,000 pay increase.”
Magnus, an open supporter of the anti-police Black Lives Matter movement was considered the politically correct pick. [Related article: Magnus Picked For Tucson Chief Of Police Spot]
Tucson is currently the most dangerous city in Arizona. While that fact is commonly known, the City Council has done virtually nothing to improve the situation and assuage residents’ fear.
Emails published by the Arizona Daily Independent show that at least one member of the City Council, Steve Kozachik, is aware of the growing concerns. [Related article: Kozachik, Elias Emails Reveal Key Reason For Tucson’s Crime Problem]