Paul's Note - October 11, 2019

With the changes to our curb-side recycling program, I thought it would be a good time to remind all of you that the neighborhood recycling center at the Ward 2 office is still open and ready for all of your recyclables.

A few years ago, the neighborhood recycling center was located at Udall Park, but the bins were moved to our lot when there was a lot of what is termed in the recycling business “contamination.” The rest of us would call it, “things that are pretty obviously not supposed to be thrown into the recycling bin.”

This has been a problem with curb side recycling too. The Chinese market accounts for 30% of purchases of recyclables. They have cut back on a lot of what they will take, and they also demand that contamination be down to 0.5%.

Contamination from curb side recycling in Tucson is close to 30%. To make our recyclables ready, they have had to slow down sorting lines. By the way, the sorting is done by hand.

Contamination from our neighborhood recycling center has gone down, but we still have issues once in a while. For example, someone left an old, smelly couch here a couple of weeks ago.

We are trying to educate the public about what should be recycled, but if someone is leaving a couch next to something clearly labeled as a recycling bin, it’s not because we haven’t included enough flyers in water bills.

It’s easy to think of recycling containers, whether they are blue barrels or giant blue dumpsters, as some magic place to dump things and they will go away. Keep in mind that people have to deal with it, whether it’s the employees at the sorting center or the amazing crew from Beacon Group that helps keep our parking lot clean around the bins.

That couch? City staff time (your money, by the way) had to be used to haul it away because someone thought that was easier than hauling it off to the dump themselves.

I want all of you to continue to use the recycling center here, but please keep what you leave strictly to recyclables and be conscious of the people who sort it and keep the place clean.

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I met with Chief Chris Magnus as well as Deputy Chief Chad Kasmar last week. Chief Kasmar, if you remember, served as our Captain here on the East Side for a few years.

I spoke with Chief Magnus about how to get more officers trained and deployable. I probably don’t need to remind any of you that we have had staffing problems in recent years; at one point we were down to less than 800 sworn officers.

A couple of factors have helped. A pay package that I shepherded has helped with retention (and has brought a couple of officers who left back into the department). The Chief has also been able to authorize another recruiting class.

Remember, that it can take a few months to get an officer trained and ready to deploy. It’s now the season of people making a lot of promises about adding hundreds of officers to the department. An academy class averages about 30. You can do the math and tell me how long it would take to get three or four hundred new officers.

We currently have 69 officers in the training pipeline, that includes both officers in the academy as well as field training. We have 857 sworn officers as of now. There are also 46 community service officers. These officers do things like patrol parks and take reports. This frees up our sworn officers to respond to calls.

More staff and the presence of CSOs has helped our response times: we are now at less than five minutes for priority one calls. Would I like this down more? Of course. I will be continuing to work with the Chief to have more trained and deployable officers. I’ve also been looking at ways to bolster our cadre of CSOs.