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Phoenix trying to crack down on 27th Avenue crime with $5M plan

The city council voted Wednesday to spend millions on hiring more prosecutors and police assistants who will target the neighborhoods around 27th Avenue.

PHOENIX — Editor's Note: The above video is from an earlier broadcast.

Phoenix has pledged to invest more than $5.7 million to crack down on neighborhoods that residents say have become overridden with drug dealers and vandals. 

The city council voted 7-1 Wednesday to implement a new safety plan that targets the section of 27th Avenue running between Indian School Road and Northern Avenue.

The plan additionally dedicates resources around Metrocenter Mall and Bell Road.

Known as the "27th Avenue Corridor," the city plans to introduce new strategies over the next couple of years that attempt to reduce crime by increasing law enforcement and cleaning up blight.

"The 27th Avenue corridor is consistently a source of violent crime, prostitution, drug use, blight and other quality of life concerns," city records state. "Ease of access to the I-17, in combination with poorly managed hotels, motels and apartment complexes, creates an environment where crime can flourish with few impediments."

Phoenix's plan includes hiring three "community prosecutors" to work with law enforcement by reviewing records and drafting legal pleadings. Four police assistant positions will also be created to help the city's sworn officers. 

Another code inspector position will be created to report blight and vandalism violations spotted along 27th Avenue.

The plan additionally calls for spending $225,000 on installing more lights along the Interstate 17 underpasses. 

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Many residents spoke in favor of the safety plan and told the council how their neighborhood desperately needs more resources to reduce crime. 

Residents described living under the constant barrage of gunshots and police helicopters. Others recalled witnessing drug deals and finding dirty needles in the streets.

"We don't want to be living like that anymore," one resident told the council during Wednesday's meeting.

Councilwoman Betty Guardado broke down in tears before voting in favor of the plan, stating she deeply empathized with the families who don't feel safe in their community.

"This is not a political move... This is about the families. This is about us bringing the safety that they need," Guardado said. 

Councilman Carlos Garcia, the only council member to vote against the plan, objected to how much funding was dedicated to policing and enforcement. 

"We [should] do more than just try to lock people up," Garcia said.

City documents show the safety initiative will emphasize incorporating technology like mobile license plate readers and temporarily-installed fixed cameras to crack down on crime. As well as "provide increased undercover operations" dedicated to investigating narcotics and human trafficking. 

More information about the plan can be found here.

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