How a retired Phoenix police officer supports ‘angels on patrol’

Published: Monday, September 19, 2022 - 4:47pm

A retired police lieutenant hopes to expand a nonprofit she started while working in Phoenix. 

“Angels on Patrol” is how Jacqui MacConnell describes officers who go above and beyond the call, “Because so many people we come across need a hand up.”

She started the nonprofit in 2009 while still working for Phoenix police as a way to support officers who want to help community members in crisis by providing immediate, short-term help.

Angels on Patrol executive director Melinda Cadena recently told the city's public safety subcommittee about a family who’d lost their home and could no longer pay the bill for a hotel room.

“The detective gets there and he talks to the family just to learn a little bit more about the situation that they find themselves in,” she said. “He calls me and he says, ‘Melinda, I’m here doing my job. I have to trespass this family but I have a heart. They have nowhere to go and they have no money, they have no other options, what can we do?’”

"He says .. they have no other options. What can we do?"
— Melinda Cardena, Angels on Patrol

She said they got the family into another hotel, then a shelter which found them long-term housing.

MacConnell said they’ve helped about 19,000 people Valley-wide, "We currently serve 14 departments. We started with Phoenix and we have since expanded.”

They believes Angels on Patrol is the only nonprofit in the United States that directly supports on-duty officers who request immediate help. The program is voluntary and officers must take the initiative. 

The non-profit’s after-hours program includes prepaid Visa cards available at every Phoenix precinct, which are often used in domestic violence situations.

“The suspect has fled but the victim is still vulnerable because, again the shelters are closed and they can’t just leave them there,” Cardena said. “Well, many times when we weren’t around they would just pay for it themselves and put them into a hotel room But what they have the option now is to put that request in that we will see it the next day, they'll go to their precinct, pick up that prepaid Visa card, take the victim to a safe location so they’ll pay for the hotel room. If they leave with the clothes on their back, they’ll buy them clothing at Walmart, they’ll go and buy them food, so they’ll stabilize that crisis until we’re able to take over the next morning.”

MacConnell and Cardena would like to eventually make Angels on Patrol available to every law enforcement officer across the state and country.

Data provided by Angels on Patrol:

  • 2010: 7 requests received from Phoenix Police Department
  • 2021: 324 total requests received, 189 came from Phoenix officers, assisting 772 Phoenix residents 
  • 2022: 263 total requests received (as of Sept. 5, 2022), 143 came from Phoenix officers, assisting 361 Phoenix residents
  • $32,375 has been spent assisting Phoenix

Departments served:

  • Phoenix
  • Tempe
  • Paradise Valley
  • Scottsdale
  • Glendale
  • Mesa
  • Avondale
  • Buckeye
  • Surprise
  • Peoria
  • Goodyear
  • Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office
  • Chandler
  • Apache Junction
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