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This page is for general Casa Grande city government reporting by Harold Kitching, continuing what he did at the Casa Grande Dispatch for 11 years before he resigned.

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Casa Grande opposes move to take away sales tax, audits authority

Posted by haroldkitching on March 5, 2013 at 1:10 AM Comments comments (2)

You’ll find the complete City Council resolution at http://www.casagrandeaz.gov/web/guest/agendacouncil. It is the final agenda item. Clicking on the blue type brings up the resolution and other documents.


You’ll find the final state task force report at http://www.azgovernor.gov/tpt/documents/Materials/TPT_121312_TaskForceFinalReport.pdf


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The sponsoring Arizona legislators say it’s a way to simplify the state’s complex sales tax laws.

The cities and towns in the state say changes in how construction is taxed is another ripoff of money from them, continuing the pattern set by the Legislature over the past few years.

Casa Grande, for example if the law were now in effect, would be hit for an estimated $1.5 million by the state denying it the ability to charge that tax when a home or commercial or other structure is built.

The task force appointed by the governor came up with 10 proposals for simplification. Seven had general agreement, but three were contested by cities and towns.

It was thought that when House Bill 3657 was introduced, the three contested sections would be held back until resolved.

However, Rep. Debbie Lesko, a Glendale Republican, included them when she introduced the bill, which is cosponsored by area legislators Frank Pratt, a Casa Grande Republican, and T.J. Shope, a Republican from Coolidge.

In short, the three disputed sections call for barring the cities from doing sales tax audits to check compliance, putting the state in charge of collecting all sales taxes and barring cities and towns from collecting construction sales tax, instead letting the state charge it at point of purchase instead of where built.

Senior Management Analyst Ben Bitter outlined the arguments during Monday night’s City Council meeting when a resolution in opposition was unanimously approved.

“Those three issues come down to state administration, effectively meaning that the state is the one to be in charge of all audits,” he said.

“And that really would increase the size of government at the state level in order to adopt some of those tasks.

“They’d be in charge of collecting all sales tax collections throughout the state. Right now, I believe there are 18 cities that collect their own sales tax, and they would be prohibited from doing such under this bill. We are not one of those self-collecting cities, so in that sense it wouldn’t necessarily affect us.”

(Casa Grande has its sales taxes collected by the state, which eventually sends the money back to the city.)

“But certainly on the back end, the state government either expands, or if it doesn’t expand enough we would be affected on that side because the processes would likely take longer (to get sales tax sent back),” Bitter said.

The second point of contention was audits.

“There would be a single state point of audit, which would eliminate the ability for any city to conduct an audit of a business that is in that city to make sure that the sales tax figures that they were reporting were accurate and whole,” Bitter said.

And the construction sales tax issue.

“That was probably the most damaging to us,” Bitter continued. “Obviously, that is a $1.5 million hit for us this year (if it were now in effect). Going down the road and we continue to grow it could be much larger.”

As it stands now, the bill would take effect in 2015, although what the final version will look like is anyone’s guess.

Amendments are still talked about, but Bitter said the one so far adopted doesn’t help Casa Grande in retaining the construction sales tax, “which is so vital to pay for some services for new commercial growth and residential growth that occurs within the community.”

Councilman Matt Herman pointed out that of the $2.65 million approved Monday night for street upgrades and renovations, $570,000 came from construction sales tax, “because that’s what it’s for, is for paying for new roads or maintaining what we already have due to the extra traffic.”

Herman said he had spoken with some state representatives about the issue and was told that the situation is like a runaway train.

“Which is unfortunate,” Herman said, “because they have the power as representatives to rein this in and help out the cities. That’s truly where the tax needs to be, especially cities like Casa Grande that are going to lose out on any of that construction sales tax” because many large builders buy in large quantities elsewhere and would be taxed there.”

Mayor Bob Jackson pointed out that much of the materials for major residential and commercial construction are not available in Casa Grande. That’s why the city has charged construction sales tax on the final project.

Herman added that, “I think on the other hand, it’s going to drive even more business out of state, because if you’re a big contractor and you’re buying truckloads of trusses, I mean why not get them in Nevada and just drive them across the line because transportation’s a lot cheaper?”

Bitter said that state law requires that when purchases are made out of state, the buyer is required to pay a use tax when the material is brought into Arizona. However, he added, “even if they were to pay the use tax, which we all know is probably not very well collected, that does not come back to us in Casa Grande as state-shared revenue.”

Jackson asked if one of the provisions in the proposed bill would require making up any deficiencies to cities, than added, “I say that tongue in cheek.”

Bitter said some amendments being talked about aim to do that, but added that, “I think where we really need to go on the construction sales is if they’re intent on calling it a simplification by amending the construction sales tax, then there at least needs to be a study on that and they need to look at the true impact that would have on municipalities and on the ways we do business.”

Jackson said, “It’s pretty interesting to me that there’s 88 cities or 90 cities now in Arizona and every one of them is opposed to that provision.” Those cities probably represent about 90 percent of the state population, he said, “yet the state Legislature is convinced that it’s good to get rid of that construction sales tax.”

Councilman Dick Powell said this is a good opportunity for the city to start engaging with legislators on issues that affect Casa Grande. He noted that Jackson has already testified on the issue.

“I think when something’s important enough to send a message that the cities are resolving that they’re opposed to this, then the ones that represent us hopefully would pay attention to it,” Powell said.

“And I think we’re going to be looking probably, if history continues as it is now, at more of those types of issues that we need to take a stand on and pass along.”

Consideration of police chief candidates continues

Posted by haroldkitching on March 4, 2013 at 4:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Casa Grande is still going over the merits of both finalists to replace Police Chief Bob Huddleston.

“Both finalists are still being considered and we are having backgrounds done on each,” Administrative Services Director Dawn Jett said today. “We have been advised that this process will take approximately 14 days.”

The candidates are Andre Anderson, now a commander with the Glendale, Ariz., Police Department and Johnny Cervantes, a commander in the Scottsdale, Ariz., Police Department.

Huddleston retires March 31 after 32 years with the Police Department, starting as a patrol officer.

To read what the two candidates said during a public appearance here, scroll down on this page.

Glendale, Scottsdale candidates are chief finalists

Posted by haroldkitching on February 26, 2013 at 1:50 PM Comments comments (0)

Candidates from Glendale and Scottsdale were selected to return today for further interviews to replace Casa Grande Police Chief Bob Huddleston, who retires March 31. That winnows finalists from four to two.

The two are Andre Anderson, now a commander with the Glendale Police Department, and Johnny Cervantes, a commander with the department in Scottsdale.

“We anticipate a final decision to be made early next week,” Administrative Services Director Dawn Jett said this morning.

Four finalists had been selected from 77 applications, including Anderson and Cervantes; Christopher Cotillo, chief of the Seat Pleasant, Md., Police Department; and Charles Padgett, interim chief of the department in West Allis, Wis.

On Monday, the four were interviewed by city officials during the day and then appeared before the public that evening at Eva’s Fine Mexican Food restaurant.

Their presentations are in the story below.

Here's what the police chief candidates told the public

Posted by haroldkitching on February 26, 2013 at 4:05 AM Comments comments (0)

Casa Grande residents got a look Monday night at the four finalists to replace Police Chief Bob Huddleston, who retires March 31 after 32 years with the Police Department, starting as a patrol officer.

The four were culled from 77 applications received from across the country, City Manager Jim Thompson said.

They are Andre Anderson, a commander with the Glendale, Ariz., Police Department; Johnny Cervantes, a commander with the Scottsdale, Ariz., Police Department; Charles Padgett, interim chief of police of the West Allis, Wis., Police Department, and Christopher Cotillo, now chief of police in Seat Pleasant, Md., and before that spent 28 years with the Prince George County, Md., Police Department.

All of the candidates were interviewed by city officials throughout the day on Monday. Thompson told the audience Monday night during the gather at Eva’s Fine Mexican Food restaurant that, “Tomorrow we’ll probably have a couple of them come back and join me for the morning for further interviews.” He said the selection will be made within two weeks.

Each candidate Monday night made an opening statement, answered questions from the audience and made closing remarks.

Those follow:


ANDRE ANDERSON


OPENING STATEMENT

I think most of here would probably know about Glendale, Ariz. I’m a division commander there and I’m responsible for about 25 square miles encompassing about 110,000 people in that particular area.

I lead and direct about 120 employees and serve over a budget similar to what the budget here, about $10.6 million. (The Casa Grande Police Department's website says the department has 77 sworn officers.)

I’ve had a number of different experiences throughout my career. I’ve spent a great deal of my time in Patrol working my way on various different shits. I’ve worked as a detective, I worked undercover. I actually worked down here in Casa Grande as an undercover, buying drugs many years ago. I looked like a crack head out here.

I’ve worked at Drug Enforcement Administration, so I’ve worked with federal law enforcement as well. And I’ve worked as a detective with a number of different assignments. So I have a pretty broad background in terms of experience, hands-on experience. Some things that are a little bit different about me is I worked in the city manager’s office, as well, I worked in the chief’s office as well to gain some additional experience.  

That’s who I am. I’m looking forward to an opportunity to come here. I think this is a great place to be. You have a lot of things that are similar to the way Glendale was some time ago, so I think that I can provide some leadership to you. I have a very diverse background in working with different diversity and different groups. I think that’s my strength. I’m a collaborator. I’m highly visible. I’m somebody that will be in the community quite often and working with you on a regular basis. So I hope I get that opportunity.


ANSWER TO AUDIENCE QUESTION (The person submitting the question did not follow the rules of only one question, instead writing down three. That was accepted.)

FIRST QUESTION: Can volunteers benefit the Police Department? If yes, in what ways?

ANDERSON: Yes, they can. There are a number of things that volunteers can do to benefit the organization.

Some things that they can do, quite frankly, is that when you’re a victim of a crime or there’s a spree of crimes that are occurring in your particular neighborhood, the volunteers can get out and they can communicate with community members and facilitate the need for them to communicate with each other. They can assist in providing pamphlets to help victims in communities learn about how they can not become victims. The volunteers can also become eyes and ears in the communities. There are so many things the volunteers can do.

But more importantly, the volunteers can serve as a barometer to explain to the Police Department what we need to be doing. See, in order for us to understand how to perform our job we need to ask the people in the community how they want to policed. And then after we learn how they want things done, volunteers can assist with that. Then we can draft a plan in order to address the community.


QUESTION TWO: How will you communicate with the residents of Casa Grande?

ANDERSON: Well, there are a number of ways I would communicate with the residents of Casa Grande.

First, you must consider the use of innovation. Innovation is out there now. You can use Twitter accounts, you can use the Internet, you can use the cable network, you can use the water bill that many of you get where we can provide you information about what we’re doing.

But face-to-face communication is best. And you can get the volunteers to go out, disseminate information about meetings that we will have, similar to what we’re having tonight, and bring everyone together and sit down and discuss the concerns that you’re having in the community. And by that way, we can all work together.

So, it’s a combination of innovation, face-to-face and really just taking time to care about the people we serve.


THIRD QUESTION: What methods do you implement to decrease crime?

ANDERSON: There’s a number of methods I use.

One is the common sense approach. You need human intelligence. That is the police officers, the volunteers, the community members that are aware of what is taking place by providing you information in order for you to formulate a plan to address them.

But for the most part, in my department I have extensive experience using what’s called CompStat (short for COMPuter STATistics or COMParative STATistics). And in a nutshell, what CompStat is, is it requires you to get timely and accurate information. It requires you to have effective followup, meaning we have to rapidly deploy. And it requires you have relentless followup and assessment.

(The Casa Grande Police Department has begun implementing CompStat).

So, when you have these things working in unison, you also have to measure your ability to address crime on a regular basis.

And you do that by bringing the Police Department, the community, our stakeholders together and you look at the crime maps, you look at the trends, you look at the percentage. You start to look at crime the way many of us look at a business. There’s accountability, there’s numbers, you find ways to address them, you use innovation to address them, use the community at large. All these things are how you effectively use your crime control methods.

But let me also say this; to me, my crime control strategy involves these concepts:

It involves prevention; prevention is important. It also involves problem solving, because problem solving is important for the police officers. And it also involves partnerships, because we need partnerships. And last, and most important, it involves performance.

Those four “Ps” will be the philosophies, the crime control philosophies that I will implement in the organization, with your help.


CLOSING STATEMENT

You have an area that’s coming (Phoenix Mart), about 1.5 million square feet of retail space, 2,000 vendors, 300 investors that are coming to this community. Right now in this particular area, you have about 240,000 people in the valley. In 20 years, you’re going to have about 2.2 million. There are a number of businesses that are coming to this particular area.

What you need, is you need a leader or leaders that have been there before, that have seen that type of growth and can lead the employees and the community to understand what that type of growth means to your community. Coming from Glendale, I’ve seen that growth. I have that experience.

But more importantly, what you need – and I’m sure we all (candidates) have these qualities – is someone that cares, not just about the Police Department, but they care about the community at large, they care about people. Because at the end of the day, that’s what matters, is the people. And I care about people.

I’ve learned a great deal about this city, this organization, this valley. And I agree, this is a very progressive process (to select a chief). You all should be proud of your leadership. It’s an indication that you’re going in the right direction. Regardless of what takes place here, you have a phenomenal leadership team. That is something to be proud of.

I would like to serve as your chief of police here. I would like to be in your community. I am highly visible. I am a community oriented police officer. I have a very diverse background in working with a multitude of different people. I have the skill sets that you need in order to move forward.

I’ve met with the police officers. I’ve spent time with them on the road. I’ve walked out in the field in the apartment complexes and I’ve seen the areas where there’s crime. I’ve talked to them about the issues. I care about the concerns. I would love to serve you.

I just hope I have an opportunity to do so. But regardless of what happens, I think you have fine choices here (among candidates). And whether I’m here or not, I will support you. If I’m in Glendale, I will help you. I am here for you. 



JOHNNY CERVANTES


OPENING STATEMENT

I’m currently a commander with the city of Scottsdale. I’ve been in that position for five years, but I’ve been with the city for 22 and a half years. I was born and raised in Miami, Ariz. I started my law enforcement career with the Miami Police Department. I started off, of all things, as an animal control officer, believe it or not, and then I went into police department as a police officer. I spent two and a half years doing that.

In Scottsdale, I’ve had the fortunate opportunity to work in a variety of assignments, both at the line level and at the supervision level in those capacities, both from investigations, patrol and also in internal affairs. So I’ve had a broad breadth of experience in those things.

And for any of you that know about Scottsdale, the area that I command is the downtown area, which is the entertainment area. Supposedly it’s one of the highest concentration of bars and restaurants in Maricopa County, so it’s very challenging. I also have the spring training facility of the San Francisco Giants in my area and one of the biggest employers, which is Scottsdale Health Care, so as you can see I have quite a bit of challenges under my command.

I lead approximately 65 to 70 police officers.

As far as one of the biggest reasons I wanted to come here, I could talk about my education, I could talk about my plans, I could talk about all those things, which are very important, but one thing you can’t replace is the relationship with the community.

I believe no matter what philosophy you have in terms of policing, community policing, you could have CompStat (crime tracking and analysis software), you could have different models of policing that exist.

The bottom line is, the reason I wanted to come here is not because I saw an advertisement looking for a place to go and retire. I’ve been looking at this location for the last two years because I knew Chief Huddleston was going to retire. So I wanted to go to a place that fit me, fit my vision and my goals and my values. And I’ve looked at this beautiful community and I took the time to meet individuals from within the department, I’ve took the time to meet community members. And I’ve said, you know what, this is place for me.

And look out right now (at audience) this is amazing. In Scottsdale I don’t always get this amount of people out, so the fact that you guys are out here, caring enough about who you police chief is going to be tells me everything that I know and just reaffirms my decision to come out and say, you know what, this is the community I want. Because I want to go to a community from what I see here.

So I just want to say congratulations to you for coming out here and I applaud you. This process has been amazing, so with that said I just want to say thank you very much and I appreciate the opportunity to come out.


ANSWER TO AUDIENCE QUESTION

QUESTION: If employees are greatest assets, what is your greatest asset to lead the agency?

CERVANTES: Well, I think the greatest asset that any leader have is, first and foremost, they have to care about their employees and they have to care about the community. They have to care about their role and take that seriously as a manager and as a leader. So I think that’s first and foremost.

The greatest asset I have is the ability to relate to people. In high school, for example, everyone else was getting awards at the assembly that you have at the end of the year, like scholarships to this and scholarships to that. I got the good citizenship award. Bust, honestly, I’ve learned that over time, and especially in this field, that my greatest asset is communicating with people and dealing with people. My degree in business matters nothing if I don’t have the respect from the community and, obviously, the employees that work for me.

So looking out for the interests of my employees, looking out the interests of the community, to me that’s my greatest asset, is the ability to communicate and work together to resolve or to conduct our primary mission, which is to make this community safe. So I think that’s my greatest asset.


CLOSING STATEMENT:

One last plug for Johnny Cervantes. That’s JOHNNY CERVANTES.

Essentially, I just want to say I really do believe I would be a good fit in this organization and this community. I do have experience. I’m an Arizona native, so I understand the laws, I understand the community. I come from a small town. It’s about a sense of community.

The other day I went to a (Casa Grande) council meeting and I watched the council meeting take place. If you’ve been to, or watched the news about the political processes nowadays I can get pretty ugly. And I watched the council members, the way they interacted, and I said to myself they actually care about one another. It seems like they get along well. Now, they may have differences of opinions, but they get along well and they get the job done. And so I just think that part is important.

And I got a sense that that’s the place that I want to be, and with my heart I really believe I could be that person and lead this organization into the future.



CHARLES PADGETT


OPENING STATEMENT

West Allis, Wis., that is just outside of Milwaukee, Wis. West Allis is a city with a population of about 60,000. I have been with the West Allis Police Department for just short of 25 years. My current position in interim chief of police. I command a department of 132 sworn officers and 26 civilian employees. We also have the Wisconsin State Fair grounds inside the borders of West Allis and the Milwaukee Mile Racetrack. So it gives us a lot of opportunity for people coming and going out of the city and a lot of entertainment and activity that comes with that.

My formal education is a bachelors degree in criminal justice and a master degree in business administration. I have areas of training in law enforcement, command staff and different training, to include the FBI National Academy in 2010 and also Northwestern University School of Police Staff and Command.  

I’m very happy to be here tonight. Casa Grande was chosen by me because it was open, I saw the position was open. And I love Arizona, I love this area. No snow; well, Tucson had snow the other day. But love this area, been here a lot of times. When I was a teenager we had friends that moved out to Phoenix. Ever since I came out here for that I wanted to get out here. I’m still trying, but I’m not here yet. But that’s why Casa Grande. It looked like a great city. I researched it, Googled. I used to be a detective, so I did all that stuff. And it’s comparable to West Allis in population and different things like that and I thought it was a great opportunity for me to pursue. So that’s why I’m here.


ANSWER TO AUDIENCE QUESTION

QUESTION: How to you help build a community as police chief?

PADGETT: As police chief, you are integral in the community, you are a huge part of working with the community and helping to build that community.

The police chief alone doesn’t really resolve anything. The police chief has to rely on their employees, whether they’re officers or they’re civilian employees, and everybody in the community, whether they’re council members, whether they are citizens, whether they are business owners and citizens. Everybody in the community builds the community. So the police chief being out there, being willing to work with everyone in the community, regardless of where they are, where they work, who they are, to make the community is what helps build the community as a whole.

So the chief has a huge role in that, but it’s one piece of the puzzle, a larger puzzle with everybody working together and doing that. And it’s kind of a common theme that you will hear when you ask law enforcement executives questions is the working together, because it’s true. That’s how we started in the beginning, is everybody working together, that’s how law enforcement started, is working together and resolving crime and different issues that happened in the community.

We don’t do it ourselves. There’s not enough of us. It doesn’t work that way. It’s all collaborative. And that’s how a police chief would build the community or help to build the community, is working all together with everyone else.


CLOSING STATEMENT

For me for this position, I bring a wealth of experience from where I come from. I actually have all my 25 years in Allis, in one place, Wisconsin. I’ve worked with a variety of different agencies, both federal, state, across country, different things on a variety of different investigations, and bring that with me.

I’m a huge communicator. Communication isn’t so much speaking, it’s more listening. I’m a listener. I listen to people. When I speak to residents back home where I’m from I listen to what they have to say. And I truly hear them, I’m not just a sounding board where it’s bouncing off. I’m listening and I hear what they’re saying and I take action on what they’re telling me, as much as I can, and I get things done.

That’s what I like to do. I enjoy doing that, I’d like to bring that here to Casa Grande. I can bring that with me here and it can serve you well. And I will be dedicated. I’m a dedicated law enforcement professional. And I look forward to the opportunity to hopefully do that for you.



CHRISTOPHER COTILLO


OPENING STATEMENT

I’m chief of police in Seat Pleasant, Md., a little city that sits inside of Prince George's County and borders Washington D.C. And it’s probably the highest crime area in Prince George's County. And the reason I went there is because I graduated from school there, I started my assignments there when I was a young rookie officer and I thought I could give back to the community when the chief’s position became available.

Prior to that I spent 28 years with the Prince George's County Police Department. And that department is the 27th largest police agency in the country – and that’s out of 18,000. The average size police department is 20 or less officers. We have 1,600 to 1,800 officers. I was district commander and a patrol district commander in District 2, the second largest district in the county and has the second highest population in the county. I had command of over 200 officers over 134 square miles and I had a population of over 200,000 residents. I was there for four and a half years.

When I was promoted to major, or commander, the chief told me you’ve got a problem with robberies and you’ve got a problem with breaking and enterings. The next four years that I was there, because of the great team that I had – I don’t take the credit for myself, we had had a great team – we brought down crime every single year. Most of the years it was double-digits, and you can ask any of these panels that we went through today, I proved it to them, I showed the statistics, so I’m not fibbing. One year, I got a proclamation from the state’s county executive for having a 40 percent decrease in carjackings. We had seven in one year, and that’s pretty phenomenal for an area with over 200,000 people.

Arizona. Why did I pick Arizona? Because I love Arizona. I’ve been out here a few times, I have a lot of friends who live out here.

Before I get into that, I’ll go into some of my assignments.

During my 28-year career, I was in canine, I was in narcotics, I was an internal affairs investigator for three and a half years, I was on the SWAT team for seven years, I was commander of the SWAT team for three and half years. And then the last four and a half I was the commander of the district station. I’ve been a supervisor in every position of Patrol. I was a sergeant, I went back to Patrol as a sergeant. As a lieutenant, I went back to shift commander. As a captain, I was an assistant commander at district station. And as a major, I was a commander.

You may look at me and say why the heck is he telling us that. The officers know why. Because some people get promoted and they jump from special unit to special unit or from an administrative assignment to administrative assignment sitting behind a desk their entire career and then they become a commander and they’re told to go command a district station, and they don’t know anything about Patrol, they don’t anything about Operations. Well, I do. I didn’t become a supervisor until my 11th year with the agency because I was on the SWAT team and I enjoyed the work. I was there for seven years, I didn’t want to leave but I saw some of the things going on and I felt I could make a change and make a difference.

As the commander in District 2 I had two sectors. I had over 50 civic associations and community organizations in each sector that I had to deal with. I provided a scheme where I had community service areas where I put commanders in charge of each area. I had cops officers in every single beat and I had beat officers in every single beat. I had community service meetings at the station once a month to get to know the community. I had a great rapport with our community.

A few years back, a couple of our officers beat a University of Maryland student and it made national news and the FBI got involved. They were always having riots at Maryland anytime they beat Duke, big rivalry. The problem is, a few times they made bonfires and they burnt some fiber optics cables that were going over Route One and those things were million-dollar cables. These officers beat this student and it was caught on tape. Big issue.

Well, I have what’s known as a goodwill bank with my community. We have done so much good work with the community as partners that they gave me the opportunity to talk to them before they jumped the gun. And what we did, was I also opened two community resource offices in my district free of charge to the county, only cost me a dollar out of my pocket a month, where I host safety seminars, I host community meetings, I have state’s attorneys come, I have all different agencies come and we can all mingle with policemen, the community and police, because some people just don’t want to go to a police station, but they can mingle with the police and see that we’re people, too.

But I met with the community, I had my community leaders come in, my religious leaders come in. We showed them tapes of these riots that happened a Maryland all the time, we showed them tapes of these riots that occur all over the country on college campuses. We also went over our use of force policy, we went over our less lethal weapons, which was the pepper spray, the Tasers, the ASP baton, the pepperball guns. We told them about the policy, we showed how we utilized each of these weapon systems and then we answered all their questions. At the end of the night, they were sympathetic to what the officers had to deal with. They weren’t condoning what the officers did, but they understood the position they were put in and they gave us a chance to rectify the situation.

I think one of the officers was indicted and is serving time, the other one was acquitted.

(That’s) the type of relationship I have with my community and I enjoy with the community. I have this goodwill bank that can trust me and I can trust them, and they gave me the opportunity to rectify it with them before they jumped the guy.

I do want to retire here, after I’m the chief for about five or 10 years. I think Arizona is beautiful. And whether or not I get this job, I will be out here one of these days.


ANSWER TO AUDIENCE QUESTION

QUESTION: What was your top priority in the job you’re coming from and will it be something that you would continue here?

COTILLO: There’s a lot of priorities as a commander or as a chief of police department. But the top concern is to serve and protect the citizens of the jurisdiction you’re serving and to make sure they’re safe and they feel safe when they’re working, they feel safe when they’re living at home, they feel safe when they’re traveling through the jurisdiction that you’re serving.

Another priority is the safety of my officers. I don’t want anything to happen to my officers, that’s why I want to make sure they have the best equipment, the best training and the best gear available to police officers nowadays. Policing has changed since I first became an officer. I didn’t have Tasers, I didn’t have (well, I don’t want to give away my age). But there’s a lot of things that they have now that we didn’t have, but they’re dealing with the same problems. I mean, I remember a guy on PCP we physically had to fight to get under control. (PCP is also known as angel dust, makes the user hallucinate, become extremely violent and not feel anything). PCP’s a big problem.

To answer the question, my top priority is the safety of citizens here in the city and anyone that travels through the city. That’s our top priority, period.

We don’t take this job for the paycheck, everybody knows that. We take this because we enjoy helping people – at least I do. And that’s the way I’ve always been.

I enjoy helping people and I support my officers – unless, of course, you’re doing the wrong thing. And I’ve told my guys that: I’ll support you 100 percent, humans make mistakes and I understand that and I will support you if you make a mistake, but if I find out that you’re intentionally doing something wrong or doing something criminal I’m not going to support you, I’m going to do everything I can to get rid of you.

The top priority is safety, building that bond with the community, working as partners. With my SWAT background I’m a team player, and I believe we’re all fighting for the same thing, whether you’re police, whether you’re sheriffs, whether you’re corrections, whether you’re animal control, whether you’re a private citizen. We all want to live in a livable community, and that involves quality of life issues, also.


CLOSING STATEMENT

You’ve heard a lot of talk and we’ve said a lot of things. I think everybody up here’s qualified. They’re a great group of guys.

I think it comes down to now the decision that the city has to make is what’s best for the city and what’s best for the individual chief that they choose, whether or not this city is right for them.

I just want to thank you for the opportunity. It’s been great. And I hope you take into consideration some of the things I have to offer.

I’m currently a chief right now. It’s a smaller agency, but I came from a big agency, 27th largest in the country. Some of the things that this city is now going through, we have gone through on the big agency that I used to be a part of. So I know how to steer the ship and get us to where we want to go.

When I was a district commander, I had such a great working relationship with the community. I had a goodwill bank. They would give me the opportunity to address them if there were issues with the Police Department that they had concerns about.

And it’s about getting everybody involved. Everybody. When I look out here and I see everybody see here, I just had a town hall meeting back home, a couple of homicides we had and I had less people at that town hall meeting than are here. So I think it’s great that everybody’s here. It’s about everybody involved.

The police can’t do it alone, the citizens can’t do it alone, the state’s attorney’s office can’t do it alone, sheriff’s can’t do it alone, probation and corrections can’t do it alone. It’s about being a team and getting it done.

The city tries to squeeze more miles out of vehicles

Posted by haroldkitching on February 22, 2013 at 1:15 AM Comments comments (0)

Much as do many city residents when cash is short, Casa Grande government tries to squeeze a few more miles out of vehicles.

That was shown both Tuesday night and last month as the City Council heard requests to purchase new trucks and cars.

Appearing before the council Tuesday night, Public Works Director Kevin Louis asked to purchase three light-duty trucks at a total of $82,109 and one pickup for $30,313. All are 2013 models.

The first light truck, for the Parks Department, is a Ford F-350 XL 2-wheel drive to replace a 2000 Dodge with 90,000 miles on it.

The staff report said that vehicle “is in fair mechanical condition,” but Louis pointed out that the vehicle doesn’t look as good as the description sounds. “It has more than reached its useful life,” he said.

The second truck, a Ford F-250 XL 2-wheel drive pickup for the Streets Division, replaces a 2000 vehicle with 120,000 miles on it.

The third, a Ford F-150 XL pickup for the Wastewater Division, replaces a 2005 model with 137,000 miles.

“All of these vehicles were part of the vehicle replacement program,” Louis said. “We actually budgeted $96,000 for the three.”

The fourth vehicle, a Ford F-150 XL 4x4 pickup for the landfill operations, replaces a 2003 vehicle with 94,000 miles.

“This had been rolled over for two yearly budget cycles,” Louis said. “It was up for replacement but staff felt that it was able to be run for a few more years. Well, it’s finally reached what we’ve determined its useful life is.”

Councilman Matt Herman told Louis, “I just want to commend you for keeping that one truck for two years longer. That really helps out with the budget.”

Last month when the council approved buying new police vehicles, Councilwoman Mary Kortsen asked for a definition of “useful life.”

Cmdr. Kent Horn of the Police Department said city departments rely upon Dave Sanders, the fleet manager, for assessments of vehicles’ conditions.

“We have tried in the past to set a specific mileage, when as a matter of fact right now some of our vehicles are in excess of what we do consider to be the useful life,” Horn said. “It’s not a finite figure as much as it is the condition of the vehicles themselves, when they start costing more and more for maintenance and upkeep.

“He keeps individual records on all of the cars and he knows. For instance, large ticket items like transmissions, he can predict fairly closely of when we’re going to have to put more money into those vehicles.”

So, Kortsen said, “it’s not like you going to say, oops, it’s got 100,000 miles and out it goes. There’s somebody taking a look at it, its repair record and maintenance record and that so each individual vehicle has its own criteria.”

Yes, Horn replied.


(You'll find the agenda items at http://www.casagrandeaz.gov/web/guest/agendacouncil.  Click on the items in blue to bring up the staff reports and other documentation.)

A look at CG burglaries since 2004

Posted by haroldkitching on February 21, 2013 at 12:25 AM Comments comments (0)

Reading daily reports of burglaries in Casa Grande doesn’t give the larger picture.

The city has shown a steady decline in the numbers since 2005’s 1,208, although there was a minor increase during 2011 at 625 and a larger one for 2012 at 775.

Speaking of the 2012 increase, Police Chief Bob Huddleston told the City Council during Tuesday’s study session, “that is pretty consistent across the United States. A lot of people attribute the increase in property crimes to the economy. When times are tough those crimes tend to increase.”

Looking back at annual Police Department reports on burglaries shows:

2004: 914

2005: 1,208

2006: 1,041

2007: 978

2008: 1,124

2009: 1,022

2010: 613

2011: 625

2012: 775

Crime up 6 percent, but not in violent categories

Posted by haroldkitching on February 21, 2013 at 12:25 AM Comments comments (0)

Overall, crime rose 6 percent in Casa Grande during the 2012 calendar year – but you have to look closely at the statistics to get the whole picture.

Violent crimes such as homicide, robbery and aggravated assaults were down, but property crimes such as burglary, theft and auto theft had increases, skewing the overall totals.

“We had a decrease in violent crimes and an increase in property crimes,” Police Chief Bob Huddleston told the City Council during Tuesday night’s study session. “And that is pretty consistent across the United States. A lot of people attribute the increase in property crimes to the economy. When times are tough those crimes tend to increase.”

The 2012 statistics show one homicide, versus three during 2011, a drop of 67 percent.

Sexual assaults (the one violent crime increase) went to four for 2012, one more than the year before.

Robberies during 2012 dropped 8 percent, from 53 in 2011 to 49 last year.

Aggravated assaults totaled 159, down 8 percent from 172 during 2011.

The property crimes totals that skewed the overall figures are:

Burglaries increasing from 625 in 2011 to 775, or 24 percent.

Thefts rose from 1,892 during 2011 to 1,931, or 2 percent.

Arsons increased from 19 in 2011 to 31, or a climb of 63 percent.

Vehicle thefts rose from 147 during 2011 to 152, or 3 percent.

Total crimes rose from 2,914 during 2011 to 3,102, or 6 percent.

The report also shows crime trends from 1995 through 2012 in an overall decline from 167 crimes per 1,000 population in 1995 to 62 per thousand during 2012.

“This particular slide we like to include because it does show that in Casa Grande a strong push for community policing and crime prevention took place,” Huddleston said. “We were at an all time high of crime per capita in Casa Grande in 1995. And you can see that even though we’re showing a bit of an increase this year, it doesn’t take away from the overall 13, 14 year downward pattern that we had. So we’re pretty proud of that over the last 15 or better years.”

Another chart shows the five-year trends for violent crimes and property crimes.

The violent crimes of homicide, sexual assault, robbery and aggravated assault show 236 in 2008, 279 in 2009, 249 in 2010, 231 in 2011 and 213 during 2012.

The five-year trends for the property crimes of burglary, theft, arson and vehicle theft show 2,724 in 2008, 2,806 in 2009, 2,816 in 2010, 2,683 in 2011 and 2,889 during 2012.

Other statistics in the report include:

✦ PATROL

Officers in the field had 32,136 calls during 2012, down from 35,666 in 2011, 39,499 in 2010 and 39,788 in 2009.

“We track our calls for service, and there has been a continued decline in that,” Huddleston said.

“We do see that as a positive thing, because we try to triage (sort by importance) those calls and not end up with every call for information or some kind of assistance ending up in the hands of a patrol officer.

“And what that translates into is a little more time for the officers to spend proactively out there.

“There’s still a lot of calls to handle, but they do continue to go down year after year as we triage those calls.”

The Patrol statistics also show 10,086 case reports during 2012, as opposed to 9,572 in 2011, 10,120 in 2010 and 10,923 in 2009.

Officers made 3,544 arrests during 2012, down from 3,723 in 2011, 3,788 in 2010 and 4,164 in 2009.

They issued 7,294 citations during 2012, an increase from 5,789 in 2011 and 5,033 in 2010, but a drop from the 8,230 issued during 2009.

✦ PRIORITY CALLS RESPONSE

The Patrol response time to top priority calls during 2012 was 5.4 minutes, a slight increase from the 5.2 minutes in 2011 and 5.1 in 2010.

✦ TRAFFIC ENFORCEMENT

The report shows only the year 2012, with 2,932 traffic stops, 410 case reports, 243 arrests and 2,116 citations issued.

✦ TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS

Huddleston told the council that when looking at traffic accident totals, the focus should be on the rate of accidents per thousand population.

During 2012, 2011 and 2010 that rate was 19 per thousand residents, dropping from 21 during 2009.

“You’ll see that our traffic accidents per thousand have been consistent at 19, which actually quite low,” Huddleston said. “If this chart went back several years you could see that we were up in the high 20s or even 30s.”

The statistics show four fatal accidents during 2012, nine in 2011 and seven each in 2010 and 2009.

There were 644 non injury accidents during 2012, as opposed to 622 in 2011, 633 in 2010 and 621 in 2009.

Injury accidents totaled 193 in 2012, versus 212 in 2011, 213 in 2010 and 214 in 2009.

Private party accidents were 113 during 2012, 99 in 2011, 102 in 2010 and 108 in 2009. The totals of all accidents were 954 in 2012, 942 in 2011, 955 in 2010 and 950 in 2009.

✦ MISCELLANEOUS There were 673 graffiti cases reported during 2012, a drop from 992 in 2011. T

he U.S. Marshal Fugitive Task Force, of which the Casa Grande Police Department is a part, made 432 arrests during 2012, mostly of violent offenders.

Passport Day on March 9 at City Hall

Posted by haroldkitching on February 20, 2013 at 10:45 PM Comments comments (0)

The City Clerk’s Office is hosting Passport Day on Saturday, March 9, to provide passport information and accept passport applications.

The event runs from 8:00 a.m.-noon at City Hall, 510 E. Florence Blvd.

In addition to calling the City Clerk’s Office, information on the cost and how to apply for a U.S. passport is available at www.travel.state.gov.

U.S. citizens may also obtain passport information by phone, in English and Spanish, by calling the National Passport Information Center toll-free at 1-877-487-2778.

“U.S. citizens must present a valid passport book when entering or re-entering the United States by air,” the city announcement said.

“U.S. citizens entering the United States from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda at land borders and sea ports of entry must present a passport book, passport card or other travel documents approved by the U.S. government.”

That's a lot of concrete

Posted by haroldkitching on February 20, 2013 at 2:45 AM Comments comments (0)

Any way you look at it, it took a lot of concrete, rebar, piping and wiring to double the capacity of Casa Grande’s wastewater treatment plant to 12 million gallons a day.

Speaking Tuesday night to the City Council during a brief update to mark the commissioning of the upgraded plant at 1194 W. Kortsen Road, Public Works Director Kevin Louis said construction began in April 2009 and was completed last June.

Louis said some of the statistics from construction are:

✦ 38 million pounds of concrete.

“So how do you wrap your arms around what that is?” Louis asked.

“If you were to pave five football fields one foot thick. that’s how much concrete was in this project.

“Another way to look at it would be two lanes of roadway five miles long, again one foot thick of pavement for those two lanes."

✦ More than 1,326,000 linear feet of rebar to help give the concrete its structure. “That’s over 251 miles,” Louis said.

✦ Sixty six thousand concrete blocks.

✦ Three and a half miles of piping.

✦ Twenty miles of wiring.

“It’s an amazing project,” Louis said.

The state Water Infrastructure Financing Authority also saw the project as amazing, Communications Director Susan Craig said, noting that WIFA, which finances water projects around the state, had loaned Casa Grande $62.5 million for the work.

Mayor Bob Jackson said that makes the upgrade the most expensive project the city has ever done.

Louis said the upgrade was originally scheduled to take 24 months but stretched into 38.

“We had a number of change orders throughout the project,” he said. “Any time you retrofit anything, hook up to something old, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

“This was a challenging project. It wasn’t like we could shut this down, build what we needed to and then turn it back on a different day. We had to continue to treat every gallon of water that we received from our collection system.”

It was pointed out by council members Mary Kortsen and Matt Herman that the upgrade not only helps the present population and future growth, but is also important to industries that might want to locate here, bringing more jobs. If a city cannot provide the wastewater structure a company needs, it will locate elsewhere.

In presenting the city with WIFA’s Clean Water Project of the Year award for 2012, Craig said the project also raised the standards of the plant outflow from B+ to A+.

In July of last year, the city listed these as the major components of the treatment plant expansion:

✦ Installed a modern control system for improved operation and efficiency.

✦ Increased the capacity and effectiveness of wastewater flowing into the plant, increasing overall efficiency of the processes.

✦ Upgraded and increased the capacity and efficiency of the pump station.

✦ Improved air quality by rehabilitating the existing odor control system at the headworks building and constructing a new odor control system at the solids-handling building.

✦ Replaced grit-removal systems with more effective units.

✦ Constructed a new aerobic/anoxic basin and rehabilitated and remodeled three existing basins.

✦ Increased capacity and efficiency of the scum-pumping station.

✦ Constructed a new liquid chlorine generation system for disinfection, eliminating the need to use or transport hazardous chlorine gas.

✦ Constructed new sludge dewatering and solids handling facilities to increase effectiveness of solids removal, increasing the amount of water reclaimed and reducing waste hauling.

✦ Improved aesthetics and safety by constructing a new perimeter wall and repairing the fencing.

Other Tuesday night actions by the City Council

Posted by haroldkitching on February 20, 2013 at 2:40 AM Comments comments (0)

You will find the full agenda at: http://www.casagrandeaz.gov/web/guest/agendacouncil

(clicking on items in blue will bring up reports and other documents, if available)


Other actions Tuesday night by the City Council:

✦ Gave initial approval to annexing 95.6 acres into the city and approved an annexation area infrastructure and service plan. The bulk of the property, owned by George Chasse, is described in the staff report a “generally located at what will be the north and southeast corners of Henness and Cornman Road alignments.” Chasse has said he wishes to incorporate the area into his plans for a large business/industrial park.

✦ Gave initial approval to updating the city’s development impact fees.

✦ Approved an agreement with Pinal-Gila Council for Senior Citizens for continuing the seniors meals program.

✦ Approved purchase of equipment for six new police cars, at a cost of $71,918.

✦ Approved purchase of three light-duty pickup trucks for $82,109. The parks maintenance, wastewater and streets divisions will each get one.

✦ Approved purchase of a pickup truck for the city landfill at a cost of $30,313.

✦ Appointed Michael P. Reid, Garrett M. Powell, Valyrie L. Wright and Nicole M. Perez to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board and reappointed Donna McBride.


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