On the heels of the tragic deaths of five police officers in Dallas, Texas, last week the Mesa Chamber of Commerce’s “Mesa Morning Live” show on Friday, July 8, was coincidentally appropriate with guests Mesa Police Chief John Meza and Mesa Fire Chief Harry Beck.
The show was planned well before the Dallas tragedy, but meant even more to the nearly 100 in attendance as they gave the duo a standing ovation.
“Our thoughts are with you and all in law enforcement and what you do for
our community,” fill-in host Mesa Mayor John Giles told them. “With the problems we are in the midst of are we prepared to respond?”
Meza, who has been with the Mesa Police Department for 30 years and plans to retire soon, said the city and his department is ready to respond to any emergency.
“It takes well trained police and fire officials to respond, but it also takes the support and cooperation of the community because you can lose trust, so we have to maintain that trust,” Meza said.
Beck said it takes the cooperation of both departments to keep the community safe.
“We work together, train together, and we are well prepared to handle any incident here in Mesa,” he said.
Giles noted that Mesa police respond to more than 2,500 suicide calls each year.
“We did see over the last two years either attempts or actual suicides,” Meza confirmed. “We have a six-person crisis response team to educate us on how to deal with people with mental issues and we’ve been at it for a month so far. The results are no use of force, using talk instead of Tasers. That’s the big change, and it’s slowing things down as we take time to communicate.”
With east Mesa in high growth mode, Giles confirmed that Mesa needs more police officers and firefighters. He asked Meza and Beck how prepared both departments are to respond to calls.
“We’re very well prepared for hazard response,” Beck said. “The challenge is ramping up for the more than 4 to 8 percent increase in call volume each year. But, we’re committed to evolving in different types of scenarios and we have to regroup to handle different challenges coming at us now.”
Meza said the biggest change in law enforcement is the future of technology: “With four police districts in our city we take community involvement as an advisory role.”
Beck agreed, noting that Mesa is an extension of a much larger metropolitan demand and “we have a meeting place identified where you can do a roll call at home or at work in case of an emergency.”
He added that both Mesa departments need more equipment and to build more training.
“We’re behind the times and our call volume is rapidly increasing,” Beck said. “The west Mesa area calls are up and the response times there are getting longer.”
It’s an issue Giles and the entire City Council are aware of and ready to lend support.
“Yes it’s expensive, but it’s our job to give you all the resources to be successful,” Giles said.
– Kelly Mixer is managing editor of MyNewsMesa.com. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.