The Sun City Posse returned to in-person general membership meetings, but the agency still has to wait a while to see something closer to normal operations.
While the Pose remained on patrol in the community, some other services are curtailed for the time being. The main headquarters office is open to the public again and agency officials are looking toward opening their new branch office at the Grand Center, 10415 W. Grand Ave., in August.
“We delayed opening the branch office because we are waiting for furniture and we are still working out staffing,” said Rich Nonini, Posse commander.
But he acknowledged it was nice to be able to restart the monthly membership meetings, which will be offered differently for a while. The Posse meets the first Tuesday of each month, but for the time being there will be two meetings.
“We are doing this to try and keep attendance down,” Mr. Nonini said. “We had our operations meeting and I didn’t anticipate that many people showing up — probably because they were so bored at home and wanted to get out.”
The first monthly meeting will start at 9 a.m. and the second at 10:15 a.m.
The Posse also stopped most services that were non-patrol related.
“We will operate under these conditions at least through the summer,” Mr. Nonini said. “We will adjust, as we always do, going forward.”
Pose leaders will re-evaluate the situation in September and make decisions then about how to proceed from there, according to Mr. Nonini.
Mike Branham, Maricopa County constable on hand at the July 7 meeting to swear in new Posse members, likened the COVID-19 pandemic to the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918. At that time the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office had just 57 people on staff, compared to today’s force of about 3,300.
“MCSO could have used this Posse back then,” Mr. Branham, said. “That just goes to show how important this Posse is to the community.”
Zane Hagen, MCSO outreach officer, agreed.
“You are our eyes and ears,” he said. “This has been a challenging time, and what you do is a huge help to MCSO and the Sun City Fire and Medical Department.”
Mr. Nonini illustrated that in a small way by citing the Posse handles up to 90% of the welfare check calls in Sun City.
“That frees up MCSO to handle more important calls,” he explained.
The Posse’s membership continues to climb, despite the pandemic. Mr. Branham swore in five new members — Larry Hayes, JoAnne Herren, Kristi Keeler, Arlene Kluzingar and Diane Jeffers — during the July 7 meeting. A sixth new recruit, Ronald South, was not able to attend and will be sworn in at another time.
In addition, the Posse honored two members, Joe Orlando and Ruth Kahlhoff, who served more than 20 years.
“It is inspiring to see people who have served the Posse so long,” Mr. Nonini said.
He added there are a number of benefits from serving the organization, including meeting people one would not meet otherwise. The satisfaction of providing service to the community is another one, Mr. Nonini said.
“Our greatest accomplishment so far this year is getting through the first half of the year,” Mr. Nonini said. “We made some modifications, but we did not have an interruption of service.”
One of those modifications was members stepping forward to perform dispatching from home, which required some logistics of disinfecting and transporting equipment back and forth.
“Without that remote dispatch, it is likely we would not have made it,” Mr. Nonini said.
Mr. Hagen said MCSO is not conducting any community outreach events at this time, and the MCSO District 3 office, 13063 W. Bell Road, Surprise is closed and will remain so until further notice. He encouraged residents in need of service to call the non-emergency telephone number, 602-876-1011. He encouraged residents to call that number to report any suspicious activity in their neighborhoods.
He added that in terms of Gov. Doug Ducey’s and city and county officials’ orders concerned masks and social distancing, MCSO personnel will treat violations first as an opportunity to educate the public on the importance of the measures.
“If it becomes more of an issue, we will do written reports and send them to the Maricopa County Attorney’s office for them to make a determination about prosecution,” he explained.