Pima crime rate increases in beginning of March

Jon Johnson File Photo/Gila Valley Central: The Pima Police Department will attempt to send a new recruit through the police academy.

By Jon Johnson


PIMA – While not representative of the weather, March has come in like a lion in Pima regarding crime and Pima Police Chief Diane Cauthen is hoping it goes out like a lion.

Cauthen addressed the Pima Town Council at its March 7 meeting and described how felony complaints had increased from the previous month’s total in just the first week of March. The actual increase was from four felony cases in February to five felony cases in the first week of March.

Jon Johnson File Photo/Gila Valley Central: Pima will have two officers on duty at at certain times during the weekends.

Cauthen said burglaries were more plentiful and drug busts were up as well. She said most of the crime in town is drug related and the users have moved on to hard drugs, such as heroin and methamphetamine.

“I did an interview and the guy said, basically, ‘You know what? I’m stealing because I have a heroin and meth problem. I’m not going to lie to you.’ So, it’s getting bad for some reason this month.”

Additionally, the Pima Police Department made six felony arrests the first week of March.

“It’s just getting crazy out there this month for some reason,” Cauthen said. “It’s been a rough week.” 

Contributed Photo/Courtesy GCSO: Jason Lawler was booked into jail for aggravated assault after allegedly kicking a Pima officer in his face.

Another byproduct of the hard drug usage is that people have increased their aggression toward police officers during arrests, according to Cauthen. An officer was recently kicked in his face while putting a suspect in a patrol vehicle. In that incident, the suspect was hit twice by a TASER as he resisted arrest and scuffled with officers, according to a police report. The officer had to be treated at Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center for his injury.   

“We’re having to fight more people,” Cauthen said. “The two we’ve had to fight in the last week had illegal substances on board . . . The end result is, you mess with the police, you’re going to jail.”

Councilor Jesus “Chuy” Cabrera noted that Cauthen had a much higher rate of involvements over her officers. She replied that while she would like to be a chief who spends most of the time in the office, due to her department’s size she must patrol and that the crime has shifted from the evening hours. 

“A lot of our stuff actually happens in the mid-day now,” Cauthen said.

Traditionally, Pima has only one officer on during the morning and night shifts, but Cauthen said she is going to mix it up a little and have morning, day and night shifts on the weekends, so, at certain times, the town will have two officers on duty at the same time.

“When you have two officers on you can be way more proactive because you’re out there and I know if I need something I can call and my officer is right there,” Cauthen said. “So, I’m going to get into more stuff. I’m going to see if I can get into more cars (and) do more searches. Why? Because I know there’s an officer there (who is) going to come back me up quick.”