Category Archives: Policing and Crime

A Family of More Than 100

As Police Memorial Week has finished for another year, I’d like to thank the 100 Club of Arizona for its wonderful support of Arizona Law Enforcement and Firefighter families.

The 100 Club was started with the idea of getting 100 people to contribute to the fund for a fallen police officer.

Today, the 100 Club of Arizona supports all police, correctional, probation and parole officers, firefighters, and federal agents who are serving and protecting the citizens of Arizona. This includes all county, tribal, state and federal levels.

Few professions have the risk that public safety brings to family members. And already in 2011, the 100 Club has helped the families of five officers and firefighters who have died in the line of duty. On that worst of days, spouses, parents and children of public safety employees are helped by the family of the 100 Club, not just financially, but with shoulder-to-shoulder support and care.

You may be part of the “silent majority” who sees their public safety employees looking after them all day, every day. And you may have wondered what people can do to say thank you. One great way is to join the 100 Club. Membership in the 100 Club of Arizona is open to everyone and provides “minimum effort and maximum satisfaction.”

Thank you (become a member today).

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Five Who Didn’t Come Home

National Police Week is May 15 to 21 this year.

Which is a good time to share the brief stories of five Tempe Officers who didn’t come home at the end of their shifts. Some of them are unknown except for archival documents. The rest are remembered by their parents, siblings, spouses, children and many friends. They all came to work each day to do a difficult job protecting people they knew and many more people they didn’t know. All are missed.

Night Officer Albert Nettle was killed May 18, 1919 in a jail break. He brought a prisoner into the jail just as another prisoner was fighting with the Marshal over being separated from his friends. Nettle grabbed that prisoner but was shot by one of the others. Local citizens re-captured the escapees.

Marshal Cyrus Spangler was shot by two robbers on January 11, 1921 as they held up the Baber-Jones Mercantile at 6th Street and Mill Avenue. The robbers were shot and killed in a gunfight at Calabasas, AZ as they fled to Mexico.

Lieutenant John Bradshaw was killed on the Hohokam Expressway north of University Drive on September 21, 1987. A man escaped while being transported for a psychiatric evaluation and commandeered a motorcycle. Lt. Bradshaw was shot as the motorcycle passed him. Department of Public Safety officers caught up to the suspect in Phoenix; they killed him when he tried to shoot them. Lieutenant Bradshaw had served for 20 years.

Officer Robert Hawk was struck by a hit-and-run driver on September 23, 1988 during a traffic stop on the Superstition Freeway near Rural Road. He had been with the Department only 18 months.

Officer Kevin Weeks was killed on his police motorcycle on September 28, 2006. He was on his way home at the end of his shift and struck construction materials on the Price Freeway at Apache Boulevard. He had been on the Department seven years.

Visit the Tempe page at the Officer Down Memorial Page by searching for Tempe.

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Helping Call-takers and Dispatchers Help You

What do you need when you call the police? What’s happening — Is it an emergency? Is it suspicious activity? Do you need to report a crime?

Whether you’re calling 911 or a non-emergency number, think about what information may be helpful; and stay on the line until the call-taker says she or he has enough information. You would be surprised at the number of times callers only say, “I need an officer,” or, think that, “My car was broken into,” is all that’s needed. But the communication center needs more.

In particular, when you call a non-emergency number, the phone system doesn’t show where you are. And if you’re cut off, or if an officer has a question later, your phone number is a mystery until you give it to the call-taker.

Two things people don’t know right off are that the call-taker isn’t wasting time, and that (unlike 800 numbers for OVC) officers aren’t always “Standing By” available for your call.

Let’s take the first concern: In an emergency, the call-takers are able to start officers heading your way even as they ask you questions. Callers can naturally feel panicky though since it can seem like help is not on the way while lot’s of questions are asked.

On the second concern: Police Departments have limited resources. And while they can plan in general for busy times (Friday night anyone?) they can’t predict specific needs at specific times.

So, calls have to be prioritized. That is, available officers will be sent immediately to life-threatening incidents like a fight with a knife, or a robbery; and other officers will stop what they are doing to respond. In contrast, let’s take a theft call where you aren’t sure when the item was taken and there is no information about who took it – this will get answered when the Dispatcher has an officer available and nearby. It may take a while if the city is real busy.

Getting back to that fight call, call-takers and dispatchers need to know: is it mostly pushing and shoving? Is someone armed with a weapon or a dangerous item? Is it two or three people against one? Can you still see it or did you have to leave before you could call? What do the people look like? All these facts and more help decide if officers need to be taken off of other matters to respond, how many officers are needed, if Paramedics may be needed, who the officers should be looking for as they arrive and many other considerations.

Even on a non-violent call, such as someone who was looking over your neighbor’s fence, communication employees and officers need the best information you can give them. For example, in the time you are calling and that a nearby officer is getting to your street, the suspicious person may have already walked out onto an arterial street or over to a shopping center. If the officer doesn’t know just who to look for (and there are usually too many people matching the description of “a man in a tshirt and jeans”) then they won’t find him. But, with a clear description of the activity and the person, officers can not only spot the person, the courts allow officers to stop and question him even if he has left the area.

So, when you are going to call the Police, please take a moment to note a few facts such as age, ethnicity, height/build and clothing colors that might not normally stick with you. And stay on the line to answer all the call-taker’s questions. You’ll make a big difference!

For more, see:

Calling the Police at Tempe PD’s web site
911 FAQ’s from ASU Police
911 Emergency Tips from Mesa PD
Calling 911 from Phoenix Police

Tempe PD Use of Force Media Training

Some great articles in the media recently about use of force training in valley police departments.…