Local News

Law Enforcement Options--Photocop?

April 21, 2011

As the Tusayan Town Council looks at its law enforcement options, Judge Bill Sutton has brought a new player to the table, Photo Radar.

Sutton has been retained to investigate law enforcement options. Right now the town is paying the Coconino County Sheriff's Office a little less than $30,000 a month for law enforcement. Prior to incorporation, law enforcement was free. But after a town incorporates it has to provide its own law enforcement either on its own or under contract with a law enforcement agency.

Sutton has laid out three options.

  • A stand alone police force
  • A Town Marshall backed up by the Coconino County Sheriff's Office
  • Continue the contract with the County at a reduced rate

At the April 20th council meeting, Sutton floated a new concept, Photo Radar. He looked at Star Valley east of Payson and he says they have a viable system which generates almost enough revenue to pay for a stand alone police force. Sutton says it would not be a speed trap. He notes that Star Valley has plenty of signs warning motorists about photo radar. He says the businesses in the area like the fact that traffic has slowed, and the residents of Star Valley are happy as well.

The council also heard from Jerome's Police Chief, Allen Muma, who oversees a stand alone force for the tiny community in Yavapai County. He says with a stand alone force, "Officers have ownership in the community." He says the start up costs of a new police department would run about $60,000  with an annual cost of about $230,000 a year.

Whatever the council's decision, it is clear that the current Coconino County contract is not acceptable. Mayor Greg Bryan said, "We made it clear we appreciate the the officers themselves, but we're not thrilled with the level of service we are getting."

Mayor Bryan's concerns are understandable. Prior to incorporation law enforcement was free because by law,  Coconino County was obligated to provide that service. Incorporation changed that. It absolved Coconino County of that responsibility and they can charge whatever they want for the same protection that was provided for free. The pro-incorporation forces never really mentioned that when they were touting the wonders of creating a town.

Whether it's a stand alone force, a contract with Coconino County, or some other combination, one thing is clear; Tusayan will have to pay for a service it used to get for free.