By Rusty Bradshaw
Sun Cities residents might notice more Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office cars roaming the streets, and some pulling over drivers and issuing citations.
That is by design and will continue to be a sight in the community, according to MCSO Capt. Frank McWilliams, District 3 commander. He took over command of one of the largest districts in the Valley in March and made traffic enforcement a priority.
“There has been a 600% increase in traffic enforcement since I came here,” he told Sun City Posse members at their July 2 general membership meeting. “We are focusing in high traffic and accident areas.”
He also said MCSO officials are in the process of purchasing two traffic trailers that will monitor speeds and collect other traffic data.“This will help us be smarter in our enforcement,” Mr. McWilliams said.
With data collected from the electronic trailers, MCSO officials will be able to determine the areas that produce the most traffic violations and deputies will be concentrated in those areas. He added the trailers will be used on the main artery roadways.
The Sun City Posse used to operate a traffic trailer in the community. However, when the agency separated from MCSO in 2017, they were no longer able to due to liability issues.
Mr. McWilliams said there is one MCSO patrol car designated for traffic enforcement in the community. However, District 3 continues to face a manpower shortage to cover the district, which stretches from Northern Avenue to the Yavapai County line and from I-17 to west of Wickenburg. There are, though, four deputy recruits now in training, Mr. McWilliams said.
“We are getting a lot of support from downtown, from Sheriff (Paul) Penzone for the areas we want to focus upon,” he added.
Regarding homeless people in the area, Mr. McWilliams said MCSO, in conjunction with Youngtown officials, have been enforcing no trespassing ordinances on private property in the Agua Fria riverbed. But that will only mean some will relocate to the El Mirage side of the riverbed or north to areas closer to Sun City.
“We can’t arrest out of the homeless problem; trespassing is only a misdemeanor,” Mr. McWilliams said. We are taking a humanitarian approach to it.”
That means MCSO and Youngtown officials are trying to find housing for the homeless and directing them to other resources.
“We want to give them a hand up, not a hand out,” Mr. McWilliams said.