Tucson Public Safety Initiative, Proposition 200 (2009)

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The Tucson Safety First Initiative, Proposition 200 was on the November 3, 2009 ballot in Pima County for voters in Tucson. Also known as the "Public Safety First Initiative," a proposed City Charter amendment, it called for increasing the staffing levels of city fire and police departments.

The measure called for 350 additional police officers. According to Tucson city officials the additional positions will cost the city an additional $50 million per year. In June, city council officials said that if the measure is approved in November then the council will most likely impose property or sales tax increases in order to pay for the additional expenses. Alternatively, the council would have to cut five city staff positions to compensate for the increase.[1] Specifically the initiative would require that in five years there are 2.4 police officers per 1,000 residents. Additionally, it requires that in four years the fire department's response times not exceed the 2004 levels set by the National Fire Protection Association.

Election result

The proposition was defeated by a significant margin, even before all the districts reported, those in favor of the proposition knew it would not pass. The head of the firefighters union was surprised more people did not want this initiative passed, but Tucson voters went with their money, opposing the increased taxes that would have been needed if this had passed.[2]

Tucson Public Safety Initiative, Proposition 200
Result Votes Percentage
Defeatedd No 45122 70.23%
Yes 19129 29.77%
Total votes 64251 100.00%
Voter turnout 26.89%



Public Safety First advertisement
Supporters of Proposition 200 include:

Arguments in favor

Proponents in the October 26 debate gave their arguments for the proposition as keeping the city residents more safe and trying to hold the city council accountable. Supporters have said that Proposition 200 would make city council members more accountable to the citizens.[6]


Website banner of the "No on 200" campaign
On September 21, the Tucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce has stated publicly that it opposes this initiative stating that if this is passed there will be a strain on the already limited city resources, adding more stress to the city's budget. The chamber is not opposed to the need for more fire or police officers, just in the way that this initiative plans to fund the increase.[7] The Arizona Multihousing Association is the latest organization to come out against this proposition, again stating that it is not fiscally responsible for the city and would not help the citizens of Tucson.[8] If this is passed, it would increase county property taxes which are already the highest in the entire state. It would also increase local city taxes in order to build the new fire and police stations that would be needed with the increase of police and fire officers. The Police department has stated that they have reduced crime over the years and the local Fire department says it also meats the required time already, without the initiative.[9]

Arguments against

Arguments against Proposition 200 include:

  • the only other city in the county to enact such a charter change is Aurora, Colorado and Aurora has declared bankruptcy.[6]
  • More police officers will not solve the policing problems in Tucson's more crime-ridden neighborhoods.[10]
  • Although it is being marketed by its supporters as pro-police, it would actually "just mandate more government spending with no strings attached."[11]
  • Chuck Huckelberry, Pima County Administrator, says that "If Proposition 200 passes, property taxes will increase by at least 8-10%".
  • Mike Letcher, Tucson City Manager, says "The passage of Proposition 200 would be catastrophic for the City of Tucson."
  • Goldwater State, an Arizona blog, states that adding more police officers just to fill the numbers needed would add officers not up to the standards of the Tucson police force currently and lower the overall effectiveness that the police force has.[12]

List of those opposed

A partial list of those opposing Proposition 200 includes:

External links