QUEEN CREEK, Ariz. - The town of Queen Creek officially has its first-ever police force out on the streets.
During the early-morning hours of Jan. 11, officers with the new police department began patrolling the town's streets.
"It's a historic day for Queen Creek, AZ," the Town of Queen Creek tweeted. "The Queen Creek Police Department is officially on patrol!"
For Queen Creek, it's been an 18-month process to get a full police department off the ground. Now, QCPD is complete, and they have brand-new officers enforcing the law.
"What we started with, and our key success to this date has been all about the community," said Police Chief Randy Brice. "We recruited, we trained, we have developed policy."
Chief Brice said the process wasn't easy. Navigating the COVID-19 pandemic brought on new challenges he had never been faced with.
"We had to get really inventive on how we went," chief Brice said. "Remote interviews, remote testing on physical fitness."
Queen Creek PD will have 73 people on staff, including 64 sworn officers. Brice said a majority are lateral transfers.
"We do have a mix of people who have about two to three years on all the way to 20 plus, and then we have people in the academy," Brice said.
The town's population is nearly 70,000. Officials anticipate a 34% percent increase over the next five years.
"The community came back wanting their own police department, to have that ownership and ability to respond to local issues immediately, and in the way Queen Creek wants it done," said Chif Brice.
Chief Brice said more officers will be needed to keep up.
"We have to respond the same way to make sure we're serving the community in the best way to keep those response times down and be proactive in the way we do business," he said.
The officers will all be fitted with body-worn cameras. Chief Brice said transparency and trust are key as the national conversation on improving policing continues.
"Law enforcement over and over has struggled with this in places where they feel like they just go out and do their job and everything will be fine," brice said. "But if you don't have that connection with the community, you miss a lot of things."
At some point, QCPD will transfer from the old town hall into a public safety building.
Chief Brice also said Maricopa County Sheriff's Office will still have a presence in county islands located in the area. MCSO will also continue to work with QCPD.
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