Tucson residents are in danger. While citizens in other cities and states can turn to the police for emergencies and reliable crime response, the Tucson Police Department has a little-known policy, denying citizens’ safety and security from criminals.

As the victim of a hit-and-run by a possibly intoxicated driver who had children in the backseat of her own vehicle, I was informed that the Tucson Police would not respond as their policy is not to investigate automobile accidents without immediate injuries (I was myself injured and required medical attention but apparently did not meet the injury threshold to have a police responder dispatched—unless I wanted to wait three hours in the abandoned parking lot where I pulled over after the accident…it was already ten o’clock at night). I was fortunate that property and physical damage were limited. The fate of the children in the driver’s car is unknown.

I was told by the 911 operator that I may be contacted in around three days by phone and allowed to file a police report. I took the initiative to insist on filing a report in person the next morning. The only cooperation I received was from the desk officer who provided me with a police report number and informed me that an officer had cruised the driver’s home and ascertained the driver was absent.

When I called and left a message later that day to inquire as to whether the police required documentation of my medial injuries I received a callback from an “Officer X”. This individual informed me that even though I filed a report and there were children at risk, the Tucson Police do not investigate unless there are serious known injuries. The only way the case will progress, I was told, is if the license plate number of the offending party (which I provided) is run through the system for another reason or offense. When I inquired about the legitimacy of this policy and asked for the officer’s name, she replied “Officer X,” spelled her name (at my request for documentation), and hung up.

Regardless of my own property and physical injuries I feared the children in the offending car were in danger. With a Tucson Police policy stating they do not respond to traffic accidents—even with a possibly impaired driver and children in danger, I finally contacted a child endangerment response organization. I hope and pray the organization can perform the duty the Tucson Police refuse to—ensuring the safety of Tucson’s most vulnerable citizens.

Meanwhile, as a Tucson resident, I await the three days “Officer X” instructed me to wait before even requesting a police investigation—something most departments do without multiple requests following a police report. The Tucson Police deserve funding to do their job and enforce all dangerous crimes  - not just those that occur off-road or those they select for enforcement.

Tucson residents deserve a police department that doesn’t write off a whole category of crimes each year and untold victims—including those children endangered by a possibly impaired driver. If citizens can’t turn to the police when crimes occur we are unsafe. Period. When the police decide to enforce some laws and not others they usurp the job of the legislature by effectively making laws—a job not within their legal purview. A better Tucson means a safe Tucson—a goal toward which the Tucson Police are procedurally dismissive. In the meantime, let us pray for the safety of victims who have nowhere to turn.

Malina Swiatek, Tucson

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