Law | Opinion

Opinion: Salt River Tribe must deal with growing gang problems

Salt River Police Department command staff are seen in this undated photo from the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Community.

A retired police officer urges leaders of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Community in Arizona to take action against gangs and crime:
In the opinion pages of the Aug. 29 Arizona Republic, readers were told for the second time in August about the growing gang problems in the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Community, problems that have spread beyond Salt River and into the East Valley and beyond. Gangs have long been a problem there and continue to grow in boldness. Last May gangsters murdered a Salt River police officer across the street from an upscale Scottsdale neighborhood. Attacks on police and community members are all too common.

In the Sept. 5 Arizona Republic story, “Police vow continued focus on gangs as task force records more than 300 arrests,” it was reported not only was one Salt River police officer been murdered, three other police officers have been shot. For a community with less than 10,000 residents, that’s a frightening statistic. An ongoing anti-gang task force made up of U. S. Marshals and local police are targeting the problem without the involvement of the Salt River police.

Salt River police officers have told me many community members live in fear of crime and gangs. Drive-by shootings are all too common.

So far the Salt River community has been lucky its serious crime and gang problems haven’t invaded the tribe’s tourist industry and revenue streams at the casinos and professional baseball fields. Communities can overcome criminal activity but the demand for a safer community begins with elected officials admitting they have a crime problem, taking the position enough is enough, properly educating themselves and then taking positive and forceful action.

Elected officials in the Salt River community might be wise to look at the Mesa model if they’re serious about crime in their community.

Get the Story:
Bill Richardson: Mesa a model for Salt River public safety reform (The East Valley Tribune 9/9)

Related Stories:
Authorities link slaying of Salt River officer to Indian prison gang (08/15)
Salt River man faces murder charge over death of police officer (05/28)
Salt River Pima-Maricopa police officer killed in the line of duty (5/26)

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