Was There Any Police Security at Gabrielle Giffords ‘Congress on Your Corner’ at Safeway?

Was there any police security at the Gabrielle Giffords event, ‘Congress on Your Corner’ at Safeway? If there were any police officers present, nobody knows about it … and the official release from the Pima County Sheriff’s office reports that the first deputy arrived at 10:15 a.m. — about three minutes after the first 9-1-1 call. The response by police and firefighter/paramedics was superb, but what about preventive security measures. With all the ‘vitriol’ and threats that were known, why were there no police officers or sheriff’s deputies on the scene at the event as a precaution.

In Chicago and the suburbs it is very common for police officers to carry out a special duty assignment at public events for crowd safety and the protection of property.

VIDEO: YouTube splash screen shows Buffalo Grove Police Department squad car on perimeter patrol at demonstration at Buffalo Grove High School in October 2010.

When the Westboro Baptist Church announced plans to protest with an anti-gay demonstration in front of Buffalo Grove High School on October 23, 2010, Buffalo Grove, Illinois police officers were assigned to watch the crowd. Police vehicles also patrolled the perimeter and neighborhood of Buffalo Grove High School.

When the Gay Liberation Network organized a protest of a seminar held by Americans For Truth About Homosexuality (AFTAH) at Christian Liberty Academy on August 5, 2010, at least eight Arlington Heights, Illinois police officers were on the scene on a special duty assignment. Additional mutual aid police officers from other communities– part of the ILEAS mutual aid pact — were also on the scene. Police also continuously patrolled the perimeter of the school and the neighborhood nearby.

Numerous other public events provide police protection routinely. And, for example in the grocery setting, Mariano’s Fresh Market hired a private security firm, consisting of some armed police officers, during their grand opening weeks.

So where was the security for United States Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who had received threats and had her political office vandalized? A state that is known for a high kidnapping rate? A state that borders Mexico with its ongoing drug-trade war? A state with immigration problems and border security problems? A city that is only a little over 300 miles (5 hours drive) from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico where 3,111 people died in homicides related to drug violence in 2010?

January 7, 2011
TUCSON – U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords will host her first “Congress on Your Corner” of the year on Saturday, Jan. 8 at a supermarket in northwest Tucson.

“Congress on Your Corner” allows residents of Arizona’s 8th Congressional District to meet their congresswoman one-on-one and discuss with her any issue, concern or problem involving the federal government.

Giffords has hosted numerous “Congress on Your Corner” events since taking office in January 2007. As in the past, the congresswoman’s staff will be available to assist constituents.

Previous “Congress on Your Corner” events in Tucson, Oro Valley, Green Valley, Sierra Vista, and Douglas have attracted between 75 and 150 people.

For the media, “Congress on Your Corner” is an excellent opportunity to view the congresswoman interacting with constituents or ask questions about any topic.

This Saturday’s “Congress Your Corner” comes at the conclusion of the first week of the 112th Congress. Giffords took the oath of office for a third term on Wednesday and on Thursday she participated in a reading of the U.S. Constitution on the floor of the House.

Among the congresswoman’s first official acts this week was a vote for Speaker of the House and the introduction of legislation to cut congressional salaries by 5 percent. Giffords was interviewed about her bill this morning on Fox news.

WHAT: “Congress on Your Corner” with U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords
WHEN: 10-11:30 a.m., Saturday, January 8, 2011
WHERE: Safeway, 7110 N. Oracle Road (southeast corner of Oracle and Ina)


The question that begs for an answer is how could the local police and/or the Pima County Sheriff not have the prescience and forethought to provide security detail for the congresswoman’s event? The Cardinal called a local business at the intersection of Oracle and Ina and asked what police agency responds to calls for help at the business: The answer was the Pima County Sheriff’s Police. The Safeway store didn’t answer their phone because, as of Tuesday morning, the store wasn’t open yet because of the ongoing investigation. But the assumption is that the police jurisdiction at the Safeway Store parking lot is the responsibility of the Pima County Sheriff’s Department.

By his own admission and statement after the shooting tragedy, Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik seems to have been aware that security risks existed.

When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government. The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous. And unfortunately, Arizona I think has become sort of the capital. We have become the mecca for prejudice and bigotry.
— Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik

Later in the day, Dupnik referred to his county or Arizona, in general, as the ‘Tombstone’ of the United States of America — referring to the former home of western gunfighters and the site of the ‘Gunfight at the O.K. Corral’ that occurred in an alley near Fremont Street on October 26, 1881. Ironically, about 30 shots (just like Congress on the Corner) were fired in 30 seconds resulting in three men killed, and three men injured in Tombstone, which is now in the jurisdiction of Cochise County. Pima County and Cochise County, which is just east of Pima County, both border Mexico.

Tucson is the county seat of Pima County. In general, Tucson and Pima County support the Democratic Party, as opposed to the state’s largest metropolitan area, Phoenix, which usually supports the Republican Party. The Tucson area is divided into two federal Congressional districts (the seventh and eighth of Arizona). The more affluent residential areas to the north and east are represented in the 8th District by Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), since 2007. The Tucson city center is in the 7th District, represented by Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) since 2003.

Both Giffords and Grijalva have received several threats during their political careers for stances on immigration and health care reform. Last year someone shot a gun at Grijalva’s Arizona office, and he was sent a toxic white powder in the mail. The front door to the Tucson district office of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) was shattered in an incident of vandalism after the House debated the health bill for final passage on the weekend of March 20-21, 2010.

More than 100 House Democrats met behind closed doors Wednesday, afternoon, March 24, 2010 with representatives of the FBI and the U.S. Capitol Police. The lawmakers voiced “serious concern” about their security in Washington and in their home districts where they were to return the following weekend for the spring recess.

But Sheriff Dupnik blames the shooting on politics. It seems a little simple police security detail could have prevented some or all of the deaths and injuries in northwest Tucson on Saturday, January 8, 2011.

One victim of the shooting at the ‘Congress on Your Corner’ was wounded, lying on the floor of the Walgreens next-door to Safeway after the shooting. Ironically, the Walgreens store’s outgoing telephone message at Ina and Oracle (7114 N. Oracle, Tucson) begins with the statement ‘Arm yourself for the one’s you love, get a flu shot’ Tuesday morning. The metaphors keep on rolling.

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