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Guest opinion

TPD chief: Allow time for investigation of police conduct

Roberto Villaseñor, chief of the Tucson Police Department, posted the following statement on TPD's Facebook page in the wake of the public outcry over police actions following the University of Arizona basketball loss on Saturday night:

While I understand the level of emotion concerning videos that have been circulating from March 29, I would like to implore members of the community to allow us the time to thoroughly investigate the incident. I am not making any excuses; however, I am duty bound to weigh all of the evidence in this situation, which necessarily involves consideration of differing perspectives, statements and viewpoints. This is not the type of situation where judgment may be made lightly or without knowing all the facts. If our conduct was wrong, we will hold ourselves accountable.

These are difficult situations that often put law enforcement in a no-win situation. On the night of Thursday, March 27, the Sweet 16, we did not deploy additional resources in the area, and we had to draw resources from across the city to deal with the hundreds of people that took over University Blvd. Even though we had never experienced that type of crowd reaction so early in the tournament, there were some questions as to why we were not ready and deployed. So for the Elite 8 on Saturday, we did deploy additional resources based upon what happened two nights earlier and are now questioned as to whether our presence was the cause for the disturbance.

It is important to acknowledge that there were numerous people present on Saturday night who came out expressly for the purpose of causing a disturbance. Social media sources of comments posted before and during the event prove that. The fact that there were no serious injuries and only one bent street sign demonstrates that our presence helped maintain control.

We are not an organization that shies away from being self-critical and holding ourselves accountable. It is easy to paint with a broad brush in situations such as this, but again I am asking the public for a little patience while we take the time to conduct a thorough investigation and arrive at fact supported conclusion (sic).

As for comments on this site, we reserve the right to delete any vulgar or profane language, but we will no longer restrict critical postings concerning our actions. We understand that as part of government, we are responsible to you, the citizens, and your viewpoints are important.

Roberto Villaseñor is chief of the Tucson Police Department.

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1 comment on this story

Apr 2, 2014, 3:45 pm
-0 +3

Wow, what a nice guy. He’s no longer going to delete comments from those who are his bosses.

So he wants time to investigate. I wonder how much time it took to draft and print this. Couldn’t that time have been put into the investigation?

What if a girl pushed over a cop, and asked for time? Would she be given it? Absolutely not. She would be instantly cuffed, probably beaten, and taken to county with no regard for “patience”.

I personally don’t believe TPD’s presence itself was the catalyst for the disturbance. TPD admittedly tried to keep a crowd from gathering, to “keep people moving” to use their own words, thereby violating the fans’ First Amendment right to peaceably assemble. TPD exceeded their authority (as they often do), and the crown got angry and I don’t blame them.

My guess is that, if TPD was there in “soft gear” and “mingled” with the crowd (their words), and left it at that, that would have been more than enough to maintain order.

Not only was this horribly bungled, but TPD missed an opportunity to build some goodwill. By having their cops actually mingle with the crowd in a friendly and respectful manner, they missed a shot to increase their approval numbers the next time such a poll went out.

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Paul M. Ingram/TucsonSentinel.com

Tucson Police officers used pepper balls and small explosive canisters filled with pepper spray to disperse a crowd of hundreds on University on Saturday.


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