Popular Phoenix hiking trail Cholla Trail at Camelback Mountain reopened to the public Sept. 30. It, along with 11 City of Phoenix parks will have private security and surveillance under a new six-month pilot program (photo courtesy of City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department).

In a 5–4 vote, the Phoenix Mayor and City Council voted Nov. 2 to approve a six-month pilot program to add private security and surveillance in a number of parks throughout the city that were identified as in greatest need of added measures based on identified criteria.

At a cost of $800,000, the program will be implemented in at least one park per district and will place unarmed private security as an added patrol effort in each area to deter and monitor illegal and dangerous activity between the hours of 8 p.m. and 10 a.m. A similar program in use at three parks in the downtown area.

The initiative was sponsored by Councilmembers Ann O’Brien, Debra Stark, Sal DiCiccio and Jim Waring. Mayor Kate Gallego joined them in voting “yes” on the program, with Councilmembers Yassamin Ansari, Carlos Garcia, Betty Guardado and Vice Mayor Laura Pastor voting “no.”

“In a time when we are dangerously low on park rangers and police officers, we need every tool in our tool belt to help keep our communities safe. It’s time we expand our security services past just the three parks located downtown,” said O’Brien, District 1, in a released statement.

Ansari of District 7 said in a statement, “Starting hourly rate for a park ranger is $15.91 after pension deductions — this is abysmal. Instead of privatizing and outsourcing core city functions, we need to increase wages and hire people who are accountable to our city and can deliver the services our residents deserve.”

The 11 parks voted to be included in the pilot program are Cortez, Washington, Pierce, Cielito, El Oso, Perry, Cesar Chavez, Maryvale, Sunnyslope, Paradise Valley and Los Olivos, with the addition of the newly reopened Cholla Trail.

Author