By Chase Kamp Superior Sun
Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu said at a Superior Town Council meeting he would immediately increase deputy presence for a short time in Superior to assist with increases in drug and criminal activity. District 1 Supervisor Pete Rios encouraged the Sheriff to submit a proposal if long-term presence is needed.
Babeu and Rios appeared before the Council on Oct. 25 to hear from residents and offer assistance to the town’s overburdened and understaffed police force.
“I know we’re short-handed and we need help,” said Mayor Jayme Valenzuela, citing an uptick in drug and criminal activity in the area.
Babeu said PCSO was willing to help. “If it’s within our ability to provide that support, I would be happy to assist in that fashion,” he said.
Babeu did not cite specific numbers, but said he had put out a warning order to his deputies and aimed to have high-visibility presence in the area.
Babeu said he and Superior PD had also pinpointed target households suspected of drug activity.
Several residents spoke before the Council to voice their concern about limited police response. One resident said he was certain his next-door neighbor is dealing drugs. Another said it took Superior PD hours to respond to calls about random gunfire heard in the street.
“I don’t want to do it, but I might have no choice but to pack up and leave Superior,” one resident told the gathering.
District 1 Supervisor Pete Rios said he supported the Sheriff’s efforts in the short-term and encouraged Babeu to submit a funding proposal if increased deputies are needed in Superior for several weeks or months.
“If it needs to be long-term, to sustain officers, I would ask the Sheriff to present a proposal for resources,” Rios said. “It is incumbent upon all of us to work together.”
Another measure passed at the meeting was a decision to accept applications to fill the vacant Council seat left open by Hank Gutierrez. In a letter submitted on Oct. 3, 2012, Gutierrez stepped down from his seat after a Pinal County Superior Court judge found him guilty of violating state law for making a vote that was found to be a financial conflict of interest.
The Arizona Attorney General’s Office filed an indictment against Gutierrez in Jun. for voting on an agreement between the Town and Resolution Copper Mining in Dec. 2010 while he was allegedly a contractor with the company.
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