FLORENCE — Police responded to 6,625 calls for service and initiated contact with other citizens 5,092 times in 2020.
In these 11,717 total citizen contacts, only 10 resulted in officers using force, a decrease of 37.5% compared to 2019, according to the Florence Police Department’s annual report.
Police Chief Bruce Walls presented the annual report to the Town Council Monday.
The infrequent use of force can be attributed to officers employing de-escalation techniques in their contacts with citizens, according to the report. Each incident is reviewed separately by the administration and once again by the town’s Use of Force Review Board.
Also in 2020, the department implemented an early warning system designed to track and identify potential problem employees. The intent is not punishment, but to track employee actions that may later escalate to potential misconduct, according to the report.
The Florence Police Department has committed to “Six Pillars of 21st Century Policing” as described in the department’s annual report. These are: building trust and legitimacy; policy and oversight; technology and social media; community policing and crime reduction; training and education; and officer wellness and safety.
“We are proud to have this report published. You can see it on our website (www.florenceaz.gov/police),” Walls told the council.
Vice Mayor Michelle Cordes commended the Police Department on its efforts to connect with local youths. The police website, which was designed by community members, has a teen button that links to various resources.
Councilman John Anderson noted the council was scheduled to approve the purchase of radios Monday, for perhaps the third time in a year. He asked if the department at last has the right equipment, and “where do we stand on getting the right equipment?”
Walls replied the department typically obtains U.S. Department of Homeland Security grants for radios and is up-to-date. The department has acquired two reserve officers who are using what would normally be spare radios. The department is also nearing full staffing, Walls said.
Councilman Johnie Mendoza asked about average years of experience of Florence officers. Walls replied he didn’t have the exact answer, but it’s a young force with an average of perhaps five to seven years’ experience. Mendoza also asked about the turnover rate.
Walls replied it’s not high, and for those who did leave, there were people waiting in line to take those positions.
Mayor Tara Walter commended Walls on his job leading the department.