Vol. 15 Issue No. 7 | February 18 – February 24, 2009

Cops, firemen have different approaches to good access

By Curtis Riggs | February 18, 2009

Both stress vigilance

CAREFREE – Police and fire officials expressed different feelings about access to gated subdivisions when addressing leaders of the many homeowner’s associations in the community on Saturday.

Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office District 4 commander, Capt. Barry Roska, talked about Carefree being a “very active community” based on the number of calls MCSO receives about suspicious activity.

“The economy is changing the dynamics of people’s lives and the community,” he said. Vacant homes are inviting for people passing through the community. “We want to identify the homes in transition.”

He added part of the security in local subdivisions involve neighbors talking to each other and the vacation watch program, which MCSO offers.

“Block watches have morphed into neighborhood watches,” he said. The number of block watches in Anthem increased from 30 to 180 in the last couple of years.

He urged the HOA officials to call MCSO whenever they spot suspicious activity. “We prefer to be proactive. The idea is to stay ahead of the curve,” he said.

Rural Metro Battalion Chief Chris Porrell, who was filling in for local Battalion Chief John Kraetz, told the 40 HOA leaders, “The thing about fire service is they talk about keeping people out and we need to get in.”

He said that while Rural Metro does have gate codes to some of gated subdivisions they do not have them all.

“We will get in,” he said, offering ramming the gate with the fire truck as an example.

“Also there are people who can’t get to the door on medical calls so we have to force the door open.” He suggested leaving a key to their home with neighbors when they go on vacation. “When people leave for the summer they close off their homes and sometimes we can’t even see inside.”

He also reminded homeowners to begin clearing defensible spaces around their homes because fire officials are expecting a nasty fire season because of heavy winter rains.

“We’ve seen big fires up here, but we’ve dodged bigger bullets,” he said about Carefree and Cave Creek not suffering extensive damage from previous large fires.

Several Carefree Town Councilmen discussed their specific areas of responsibility. Topics ranged from road maintenance to new automatic water meter readers to marketing and budgets.

As Councilman David Schwan put it, “You are the best eyes and ears we have in the community,” urging residents to call Carefree Town Hall when an issue arises.