The South Tucson Police Department is hoping to hire officers to help combat crime that filters through the city.

The 1.2 square mile City of South Tucson is surrounded by a big city, which has been one of the factors contributing to crime. Another factor includes the proximity of the Pima County Jail, which sometimes releases arrestees awaiting trial less than a mile away from South Tucson city limits.

Oro Valley, Marana, Sahuarita, all the other local agencies, they take their arrestees to the Pima County Jail. With it being so close, sometimes the arrestees are immediately released and they’re within walking distance from the City of South Tucson, said South Tucson Police Department Commander Raul Navarro.

The crime in the area hasnt gone up or changed, but Navarro said having more officers on duty would help. The current staff holds 12 full-time positions, which includes the chief and commander. In addition, there are eight reserves the department can request assistance from in times of need.

Local resident Sergio Diaz has lived in South Tucson for 4 years, and hes used to the crime he sees in the area. Still, he said, Im just proud that I do see a strong presence with the few officers that they do have here in town, but I feel like they could use the help.

Commander Navarro said the problem in bringing in more officers is the funding from the city isnt there. They are currently hiring fully certified officers, but the pay is less than local agencies. This makes the competition tough.

If more businesses moved into the city, the government would have more money to work with. Attracting business to the area can be tough with the impact crime has already had on businesses. Jose Macazani is the manager at Ramons Automotive in South Tucson. He said the auto shop was broken into last year, and has heard about others having similar experiences recently.

There was a guy last week here, he was just walking around and walked into our lobby, asked for a soda, but I could tell he was under the influence of something. He started bugging one of our customers and then tried to get into her car, and at that point he had to call the cops, said Macazani.

After calling the cops, the response time wasnt what he hoped for. He expressed his understanding of the struggle the South Tucson Police Department faces in bringing in more officers. Commander Raul Navarro is hoping for people to still apply because of the connection officers have with the community.

We have a real old-fashioned sense of community policing, and when I say old fashioned I mean that in the best possible way. We actually know who our citizens are, he said. With the majority of the population being Hispanic, he hopes to bring more bilingual officers to his squad.

For information on the police department, visit Police Department | The City of South Tucson Arizona.