It would seem that the Tempe police are more concerned about people’s opinion of them than actually protecting the residents.
The ‘Safe and Sober’ campaign that launched in 2013 after incidents where Arizona State University students were found dead after attending parties where heavy drinking was involved was replaced with a babied version that focuses on education and prevention.
After the program ran for three weekends it vanished due to complaints that it put Tempe into a ‘police state.’ The semester hasn’t even officially started and we are no-where close to the heavy drinking events such as home football games and holidays and already they are backing off.
Tempe police say that they will be bringing back a new version based on education and prevention instead of a call to action. Just like the years before the whole campaign started, which didn’t work out so well for the underage drinking problem.
At the same time the lack of a police presence on Mill Avenue is evident. The Tempe police are no longer able to remove the panhandlers and loiters that hang around due to the city ordinance that dropped last year because of complaints that it didn’t allow people to sit on the street in front of their house.
The number of loiterers and panhandlers has since risen and is now such an issue that customers are avoiding the area and employees are afraid to take the trash.
Between loosening the reins on the ‘Safe and Sober’ campaign and now not being able to remove loiterers from the street, it would seem that the Tempe police care more about their reputation than keeping the streets safe.
This major step back from the call to action will most likely show a rise in underage drinking and the related street crime that was once on the decline.
Police Cmdr. Noah Johnson told azcentral.com that during the program there was a significant drop in crime, especially with aggravated assaults and street robberies. There has also been 2,500 arrests, with the majority of them being citations for minors consuming or possessing alcohol.
Now residents are forced to question their safety from drunk drivers and the possibility of becoming the victim of a street crime, especially on Mille Avenue, if they would like to leave their houses during the weekends and school events. Have we now gone from a ‘police state’ to a ‘crime state’? We are going to have to wait and see.