By Rusty Bradshaw
While they won’t be as sweeping as breaking from Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office or splitting into two organizations, the Sun City Posse will see some changes in coming months.
One of the biggest changes will be in dispatch. Posse officials will test a new program that will allow for patrol vehicles to be tracked in real time. The program features a large monitor in the Posse dispatch area that will show all the patrol vehicle locations, according to Jean Schmitt, Posse communication officer. The fleet tracking will allow Posse officials to locate patrol members’ location if headquarters personnel lose contact with them via radio or phone.
“This will keep our patrols safer,” Ms. Schmitt said. “With this system we can see where the car is and get someone there quicker.”
Posse officials are also researching the possibility of getting electronic tablets for each vehicle to allow patrol members to track all Posse vehicles within the community.
“We will be testing the system this month for accuracy and program stability,” Ms. Schmitt said.
The tracking program also includes a feature that alerts officials to maintenance needs for each vehicle, she added.
Danny Moore, Posse commander, said the idea for the tracking system was inspired from possible falls or accidents while Posse members are conducting house checks.
“If someone is walking a home and falls and drops their radio out of reach, we would have no way of knowing,” he explained.
Posse officials were researching the system for eight months before it was installed, he added.
“This isn’t meant as a ‘Big Brother’ type of thing,” Mr. Moore said. “Patrol safety is our main concern.”
Keeping patrols on the streets and improving their safety in turn increases residents’ safety.
An example of how the Posse enhances residents safety came May 6 when a resident suffering from dementia wandered away from his home. The Posse morning shift conducted a search and found the man about 1.5 miles from his home, according to Mr. Moore.
“We get a few of these calls and most don’t have a happy ending like this one that quickly,” he said.
The Posse also alerts residents to possible problems they may encounter. Vicki Foelsch, Posse board of governors member, told members during the May 7 general membership meeting of a new scam just getting started in the area. People could receive a call from a 222 area code at night.
“This is a scam from South Africa,” she said. “If you call the number back, you will get a huge charge on your phone bill.”
The Posse also administers a Block Watch program, and that just completed some image changes.
“McGruff the Crime Dog was retired from Block Watch several years ago, but we still had signs with his picture on it,” Ms. Schmitt said.However, most of those signs were changed to reflect the new format, she added.
“There are still a few out there with McGruff, but we’ll get those changed soon,” Ms. Schmitt said.
The Posse headquarters has also seen some small changes. Tim Lambin, Posse building and grounds officer, said the entire building was converted to LED lighting as a cost savings and to improve the lighting inside.
The Posse is also researching other options for fueling their vehicles, Mr. Lambin said. The Posse has a fuel tank at its headquarters and has used that for refueling patrol vehicles.
“There are a few new requirements for onsite fueling, so the board decided to remove the tank from our grounds,” Mr. Lambin said.
That removal is expected some time in July, he added. That gives Posse officials two months to research and implement a new fueling procedure. There are several retail gas locations in Sun City and officials will be talking to managers of each to determine the best option, or multiple options, according to Mr. Lambin.