A commentary from a Scottsdale City Council candidate
By Raoul Zubia | Free Press Point of View
Scottsdale is a city in perpetual motion, and the one constant is growth. Growth will happen, and we will either grow responsibly with a strategic vision, or we will see this community grow without the appropriate public safety resources to keep us safe.
Scottsdale is home to some of the finest resorts, galleries, hiking trails, golfing, dining and special events in the world. More than 9 million visitors come to our city every year, creating an economic impact of approximately $3.3 billion. Everything Scottsdale hopes to do in the coming years begins and ends with a community where people feel safe to live, work, play and raise their children. People come to Scottsdale for the high quality of life, the amenities, and, above all, because they feel safe.
Scottsdale has one of the most professional, highly trained public safety work forces in the nation, recognized for its innovative training, equipment and technology.
Unfortunately, this is at-risk if city leadership does not promptly act to adequately fund our police and fire departments. Simply saying you support public safety is not enough. Immediate action is needed to ensure the safe, high quality of life we all enjoy in Scottsdale.
Let me be clear: If I am elected to the Scottsdale City Council this year, I will lead the fight to fund our first responders. And there is much work to be done.
Being a police officer or firefighter is an incredibly difficult and challenging job, now more than ever. Public safety personnel deserve our unwavering support with more than just words. We need action to keep our community safe and great.
Scottsdale has historically attracted quality public safety candidates because of its affordable housing and supportive political leadership. Unfortunately, those days are gone. Today, our public safety professionals cannot afford to live here, and they are woefully under-compensated in comparison to most Valley cities.
— Raoul Zubia, candidate for Scottsdale City Council
Our public safety personnel are highly trained professionals with options to leave for other agencies. Specific to the police, Scottsdale severely lags all comparable Valley agencies in total compensation. Scottsdale has dozens of police officer vacancies. Experienced officers are exploring other opportunities across the Valley.
Specialty units cannot be filled, and detectives must work patrol shifts to supplement front line coverage. Many sworn positions are being forfeited because the city cannot attract an adequate number of police officer candidates. In fact, the number of sworn officers is the lowest it’s been in 20 years.
Competition for public safety professionals across the Valley is fierce, and Scottsdale is competing for a limited number of qualified candidates. Most cities recognize this and have prioritized public safety. Unfortunately, Scottsdale has not, and the safe community we know and love cannot be taken for granted. All too often I hear a call for more police units to address crime trend issues. We can authorize hundreds of new officers, but that will not matter if the police department is unable to attract and retain qualified candidates because the city’s total compensation is not competitive.
We also must support the men and women who work behind the scenes to keep public safety operating 24/7 — dispatchers, records personnel, crime scene specialists and police aides. These members of our police department must also be compensated as the highly skilled professionals they are, and moreover, staffed to levels commensurate to support the number of police officers in our city.
I am a lifelong Scottsdale resident who understands that our city must deftly manage growth and maintain our historical character and charm. Most importantly, we must have leaders who will fight to fund and support the brave men and women who keep our community safe. I promise to do just that when I serve on City Council.
Editor’s note: Mr. Zubia is a candidate for Scottsdale City Council this August.