QUEEN CREEK, AZ — January 11, 2022 marks the start of a new era in Queen Creek as it is the day its first-ever police department began patrolling the town.
This day has been in the works for years.
The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office officially handed over the baton to the Queen Creek Police Department at midnight.
It’s no secret Queen Creek has seen a lot of growth over the last couple of years, and Sheri Hinrichs says this growth warrants a new police department.
“This area can be spread thin with the sheriff’s department. I feel bad for them,” Hinrichs added.
Alissa Forgie, who has lived in Queen Creek for the last six years, agrees.
“I love it. Any more police presence in our community is a great thing,” said Forgie.
Randy Brice, the first-ever Queen Creek Police Department Chief, says the community is the department’s focus.
He adds earning and keeping the community’s trust is essential.
“We do believe that that connection is going to make us successful,” he said.
Chief Brice said another goal is protecting its residents.
“One of our goals, like many agencies, is to make sure that emergencies are answered; that we arrive on scene within five minutes,” added Chief Brice.
“They’ll be able to be there so much faster. So I’m so thankful that they will have more people to be eyes and ears on the streets, and also just to support the community,” said Hinrichs.
Though some members of the community, like Joseph Jawdat, say that they already feel safe and protected.
“Why is it necessary to open up a police department when we already have numerous police vehicles on the streets constantly patrolling,” Jawdat told ABC15.
Chief Brice says it’s because of the growth and Mark Schnepf, Queen Creek's first mayor, can speak to that.
“Queen Creek 50 years ago was like Mayberry. It was a small community. Everyone knew everyone. So, in the last 50 years, it has grown dramatically from 5,000 to 65,000-70,000 people. So, I’m just really excited that Queen Creek launched their police department,” he told ABC15.
The department has filled nearly all 74 positions.
Sonu Wasu, a spokesperson for the Queen Creek Police Department, says the only opening in the department is the Crime Scene/Evidence Specialist position.
The department also prides itself on being focused on diversity in its ranks.
“More than 30% of our staff is women,” said Chief Brice.
This is part of the national 30x30 Initiative involving the National Institute of Justice, to have 30% more women in policing by 2030.
This is a goal that the Queen Creek Police Department has already met.
“We have a motto here in town. One town, one team. I think that goes not only just to the people that work here, but to the community. It’s all about working together to engage and be successful,” said Chief Brice.
“We’re thankful for everything that you do, and we’re excited for you,” Hinrichs told ABC15.