The images are heartbreaking. Less than two weeks after Scottsdale businesses emerged from the darkness of the COVID-19 shutdown, many had to shutter their doors yet again after Saturday night’s chaos in downtown Scottsdale.
Instead of seeing diners enjoying a peaceful Sunday brunch on a beautiful, late spring day, all I saw in our Downtown was wooden boards, broken glass, and trash --- remnants of a looting spree somehow called by some “a peaceful protest.”
What I heard and saw saddened and angered me. I reside and operate my business a stone’s throw away from Scottsdale Fashion Square. I heard the police sirens, helicopters, and hundreds of people yelling late on Saturday evening from my home.
I decided to act before things spiraled even more out of control, and the rioters moved eastward toward restaurants, shops, and residential neighborhoods. A fellow neighbor and I spent the entire night and early morning guarding our residences and retail locations nearby.
In the aftermath of what occurred, I wondered what could have been done to prevent this mayhem and destruction. Ensuring public safety is my passion and I have deep roots in the field. I proudly served on the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Posse for a decade. In addition, I was a member of the Qualified Armed Dignitary Protection Unit. As part of the Posse, I did it all from assisting deputies conducting weekend DUI task forces, serving warrants and general patrols citywide, to helping hikers stranded and searching for missing persons statewide.
When crime was getting out of hand in our city’s Entertainment District a few years ago, I formed a coalition with bar owners, business owners, residents, neighborhoods and other key business stakeholders to get six municipal ordinances approved by the Scottsdale City Council. These new laws have drastically improved the situation and made Downtown Scottsdale a safer place for all.
Our city’s population has grown exponentially in recent years, yet we continuously ask our heroic first responders to do more with less. Simply put, the Scottsdale Police Department has been stretched thin. These public safety shortcomings will be amplified even more in the upcoming year as our budget falls short of what was projected in January.
In late May, the tentative budget approved by the city council would reduce the budgets for our police and fire departments by 5 and 8.5%, respectively. I write this column today to ask for our elected officials and candidates for public office to stand with me in supporting additional funding for public safety.
Do you think that the criminal activity that gripped our city early into Sunday morning could have been prevented if we had more officers standing guard at Scottsdale Fashion Square and nearby commercial spots to obstruct stymie and arrest the looters? I do.
Now is not the time to cut back on the resources the Scottsdale Police Department needs to successfully do its job. The number one priority of any municipality is public safety. Instead of putting public safety on the backburner, we need our city council members to work together and ensure that we are providing these critical employees with the support they need to do their jobs.
Businesses incurred an estimated “millions of dollars” in damage, but we are so grateful there was no loss of life during Saturday night’s pandemonium.
However, who can say that loss of life will not occur the next time there is a mass gathering that turns to disorder? You cannot put a price on that.
Editor’s note: Mr. Crawford is a Scottsdale resident, a longtime advocate of downtown and is seeking a seat at Scottsdale City Council this August