On the afternoon of April 22, 2019 Andrew Gallardo was beaten to death after he called 911to report that a stranger was on his property and threatening him. Gallardo was a constituent of Tucson City Council member Regina Romero.
Romero has occupied a spot on the City Council since 2007. She has spent most of that time railing against increases in the number of Tucson Police Department (TPD) officers and other public safety employees.
Andrew Gallardo called 911 and like most people, expected a police response. A full 90 minutes later, when they did respond, TPD officers found him deceased. For context sake, TPD headquarters are less than 2 miles from Mr. Gallardo’s home.
Tucson is an extremely liberal city and the City Council and mayor do not hide their disdain for law enforcement officers. It has amply provided pay cuts to its officers while bolstering the pay of city transportation employees. Officer pay has been somewhat restored but nowhere to the level it should be or would have been had the pay cuts not been implemented.
Tucson is a great city with an expanding population currently around 560,000 residents. The city is divided up into 5 divisions covering an expanse of 238 square miles. A city this size would typically employ 1000~1400 sworn police officers according to a study on police staffing by Professor James McCabe PhD. This is in addition to a myriad of non-sworn positions. Currently, the number of sworn officers for this jewel of the desert is hovering below 800. This is far below a reasonable or safe level.
The City Council and Mayor have shown their propensity for the inappropriate prioritization of taxpayer dollars at the expense of public safety. Hundreds of millions of dollars were invested in 19th Century technology to the detriment of TPD.
Furthermore in 2016, Tucson hired a new police chief, Chris Magnus, who is an unabashed social justice activist. He has taken active stances supporting various social justice causes like Black Lives Matter. His mismanagement led to the injustice from which Mr. Gallardo suffered on that fateful day in April.
The Gallardo case would not be much to write about if it was an isolated incident. A local gun store was burglarized, which on its face is multiple felonies. The owner of the gun store called Tucson 911 several times without a response even after 9 hours. Had the owner not responded to the burglary, an unknown total of firearms would have made it to the criminal underground.
This story was relayed to me by a former Tucson police officer of a call he was dispatched to one evening. A woman called 911 to report a domestic violence assault by her former boyfriend. By the time the officers arrived, the woman had sustained multiple beatings and was found unconscious. The perpetrator was nowhere to be found. The 20-minute response time did not prevent multiple injuries to the victim.
There are numerous corridors of crime in Tucson where perpetrators do not fear police presence. Police officers can’t be everywhere at the same time, nor are they sworn to protect as was once famously emblazoned on most police vehicles. It is recommended that residents provide for their own protection until the city can figure out how to prioritize its budget correctly.
The men and women who raise their hand and swear an oath to become protectors of their city deserve to have unequivocal support from the city they protect. That does not just mean the citizens, it means the Mayor and the City Council as well. Words are cheap, and the elected representatives for the city need to stop politicizing public safety.