Commercial development and population growth in Gilbert, Az., near Phoenix, is prompting a major expansion of the police department, says the Arizona Republic. The city plans to hire 80 officers over the next five years, but it remains unclear whether a police force with the lowest officer per capita ratio of any majo nearby municipality can maintain Gilbert’s markedly low crime rates.
Through August, Gilbert had about one officer for every 1,000 residents. As of October 2003, Tempe had 2.04 officers for every 1,000 residents, while Mesa had 1.86 and Chandler had 1.42. Tempe and Mesa have significantly more crime. “The reality is that we need to be striving for probably 1.4, 1.5 police officers per thousand,” said council member Les Presmyk. “That still puts us right at the bottom of our adjoining communities.” Through August, Gilbert had 174 authorized positions for sworn personnel with a responsibility to cover 79 square miles and an estimated population of 163,400. “It’s not surprising that our crime is going up by leaps and bounds because our population is going up by leaps and bounds,” said Judy Fernandez, crime analyst for the police department.