Community leaders met Monday evening at the Tempe History Museum to discuss crime prevention and a new mobile app for residents and help organize Getting Arizonans Involved in Neighborhoods events throughout Tempe.
Detective Nate Ryberg of the Tempe Crime Prevention Unit briefly discussed how to protect homes from criminals.
“Lock your doors,” he said. “I’ve talked to a lot of bad guys, and they say they just walk around and try doors. Lock your doors.”
The 311 mobile app is designed to help community members inform police on non-emergency situations, such as late trash pick-up.
Operation Safe and Sober in Tempe over the past few weeks is the cause of much of the upheaval community members are feeling. Longtime Tempe resident Alana Porter said the operation was tearing the community apart.
“We’ve lived here a long time in a close-knit community and now we have to look out for each other from the police,” she said.
Many attendees also saw the mobile app to help the community as a problem.
“Now the police want us to 311 narc on our neighbors without talking to them in person,” Porter said.
ASU was not discussed during the meeting, but many people who attended believed the University was a part of the problem with the high number of arrests and community unrest.
Drew Sullivan, who has lived in Tempe for 13 years, said pushing fraternities off campus became an issue.
“If these fraternities weren’t associated with ASU, would they be considered gangs?” he said.
Frustration over the police insurgence in Tempe has been felt by community members, sparking many to create Facebook pages to rally against the Tempe Police Department.
No relief of the police presence is in sight as Operation Safe and Sober will be continued for the foreseeable future.
Detective Jeff Lane said the primary role of Safe and Sober is to protect the public and change the way police have worked in the past to ensure this campaign works.
“We’re here for public safety,” Lane said. “In the past we gave out a lot of warnings, and it didn’t work. We’re not giving second chances,” he said.
Sullivan said he is unhappy with what he perceives as Tempe slowly becoming a police state.
“On one hand, we have a group of citizens showing strength of state, meanwhile over 1,300 people have been arrested over the weekends,” Sullivan said. “Us as residents feel our neighborhoods have been taken over by the police.”
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