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Mesa Public Safety Agencies Present Budget Proposals

The Mesa Police Department is projecting an $8 million increase in their next fiscal year budget request. That puts the total ask at more than $184 million.

Violent crime rates are up in Mesa, and so are police response times. Interim Police Chief Michael Dvorak told the council his department needs more officers. But after a tax increase to boost the public safety budget failed at the ballot box last November, the department has been looking for places to cut.

Twenty-one sworn officer positions will either be eliminated or converted to civilian positions. So instead of putting someone through 10 months of police academy training, Dvorak says they can hire civilians to handle non-violent police duties like writing accident reports. “To allow us to redeploy the officers to the types of skill required events that they need to be on," Dvorak said.

Dvorak confirmed that accounting for pensions, sworn officers end up costing the department twice as much money as civilians, which make up 35 percent of the Mesa Police Department.

The Chief says the Mesa PD currently has one of the highest ratios of civilian staff to sworn officers in the country.

The Mesa Fire and Medical Department is projecting a $77 million budget for fiscal year 2017-2018. That’s a $3 million reduction from the previous budget.

Chief Mary Cameli says her department responded to more than 66,000 calls for service in 2016. Eighty percent of the calls were for medical assistance.

Cameli says nine of the top 10 locations Mesa Fire responds to are assisted living and senior-care facilities — totaling more than 2,200 calls per year.

“When someone falls out of bed, they generally call the fire department to help assist that because of the liability and so — these type of calls,” Cameli said.

The chief says charging for those services could be a way to generate additional revenue. She also proposed charging for repeated false alarm calls as well as gas leak responses.

Mesa Police Department Budget Presentation

Mesa Fire and Medical Department Budget Presentation

Jimmy Jenkins was a producer and senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2014 to 2021.