The Town Council requested a comprehensive study of police services in the community as part of the strategic plan for this fiscal year.
The study was presented for discussion and feedback at the Dec. 4 Town Council Meeting; no action was taken. To make an informed decision on the important topic, Council requested staff conduct extensive community input for approximately 60 days, beginning in early 2020.
The study evaluates three options:
- maintaining the contract with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO);
- contracting with another law enforcement entity; or
- starting a municipal police force.
The study focuses on developing a municipal police department and maintaining the MCSO contract as the two most feasible options, and includes a chart comparing the two.
Some of the advantages of a municipal police department include authority over the day-to-day operations, developing a more proactive policing philosophy with increased community engagement, more direct communication to Town Council and management, and control over staffing. Advantages of maintaining the MCSO contract include reduced liability and costs to the Town.
Law Enforcement Study:
Why would Queen Creek consider establishing a municipal police department?
Over the past several years, the Town has grown at 6-10% annually, and that growth rate is anticipated to continue over the next five years. With a current population of 52,000, an estimated buildout population of 175,000, and a 62% increase in acres zoned for commercial use, the Town has to evaluate the need for more authority over the day-to-day operations of the police program. For example, developing a more proactive policing philosophy with increased community engagement, more direct communication to Town management and Council and control over staffing.
What does the study say?
The study was initiated for the purpose of conducting research and evaluation in the following areas:
- Determine the required law enforcement resources that will be needed to implement the Town’s goals for community oriented policing as the community continues to change, grow and evolve.
- Conduct a comparative analysis of other police departments.
- Evaluate the delivery of services and how to maintain appropriate levels of service with Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, a municipal police department, or other option(s)
What are the next steps?
The Town Council discussed the results of the study at the Dec. 4, 2019 meeting. To make an informed decision on the important topic, Council requested staff conduct extensive community input related to police services in Queen Creek over the next 60-days beginning in early 2020.
How would the Town pay for a police department?
The Town would pay for a police department using a combination of the existing public safety property tax revenues and growth in the operating budget; taxes would not be increased.
What would the transition timeframe be if the Town started a municipal police department?
Should the Town Council move forward with establishing a municipal police force, it would take approximately 18 months to fully implement. This would require a transitionary period when senior leadership for a police force would be establishing policies, procedures and operations while MCSO is still the contracted law enforcement provider.
How large would a new municipal police department be, and how would it be structured?
The study projects a Town police department would include 59 full-time employees (56 sworn) in the first fully staffed year. Although a recommendation to transition to a municipal police department is not made, the transition analysis assumes a start-up year commencing in the fiscal year 2021. The structure would follow a traditional paramilitary style, with specifics determined by direction from Council, input from leadership and the needs of the community.
How would a Town police department provide the same level of service/resources as MCSO?
If the Town moves forward with a municipal police department, it would establish intergovernmental agreements (IGA) with neighboring entities to supplement any services/resources not provided through the Town’s police department. For example, a jail, court, dispatch and specialty units (SWAT, narcotics, etc.). The use of IGA’s is common within the Phoenix metropolitan area among municipal police departments, including MCSO and DPS.
With the national shortage, why does the Town think it would be successful in hiring officers?
Considered as one of the Best Places to Work by the Phoenix Business Journal the last four years, the Town continues to offer a quality work environment, providing competitive wages and pride of service. The Town will conduct an active recruitment, sharing the benefits of working for the Town. The Town has always prided itself on a culture of teamwork, service excellence and an opportunity for professional growth.