Chief of Police Nannenga

Avondale Chief of Police Dale Nannenga attended a Cashion neighborhood meeting, urging residents to work with the police as partners. (West Valley View photo by Tom Scanlon)

How bad are drugs and crime in Cashion?

Bad enough for neighbors to invite Avondale city leaders to a meeting — and demand help. 

At last week’s community meeting, two dozen Cashion residents called for action from a half-dozen representatives of the city of Avondale.

Some complained, with all the money and resources going into big projects in central and north Avondale, the streets and homes of “L.A.” (Lower Avondale) are being ignored.

“We have a problem: Drug addicts roaming the streets and stealing,” said retired teacher Robert Garcia, who facilitated the meeting.

Garcia turned to Veronica Malone, an Avondale councilwoman, and Chief of Police Dale Nannenga.

“What can we do?” Garcia asked them.

Nannenga answered that he wanted “everybody to come together. We want to be your partner.

“We want to come in and make your community just as good as anywhere else in Avondale.”

Cashion was in the news recently, when local resident Christopher Mendoza, wanted for kidnapping and making threats, eluded police repeatedly. He allegedly had assistance from friends and fellow gang members in Cashion, who created diversions to help Mendoza evade several police barricades. Mendoza was eventually caught by Buckeye Police officers. He has a preliminary trial Monday, Feb. 10.

Several long-timers remember when nights in Cashion always seemed to be filled with gunshots.

“The gang stuff from 20 years ago, that is down,” said Mercy “Mica” Arredondo, who said she has lived in Cashion for all her 65 years.

“What’s up is the drug scene.”

Garcia agreed. “It was worse 20 years ago,” he said.

Sen. Lupe Contreras, who represents Avondale, Tolleson and west Phoenix, said residents should remember how they banded together against gangs from Los Angeles two decades ago.

“I’ve been fighting to get Cashion where it needs to be,” Contreras said. 

He said he, too, has lived in Cashion all his life.

“I’m so proud to be from this town,” he said. Then he pointed at the city representatives: “But they can only do so much.

“We need to do things for ourselves.”

He brought up the idea of Mendoza being helped to avoid police, and people selling drugs in the neighborhood. 

“How are we doing to get this stuff off the streets? Call 911,” he said.

“Until we start sticking up for each other, we can’t point the finger at the police.”

Nannenga introduced Officer Ray Emmett, a community officer who passed out his card, and encouraged Cashion residents to call him about matters big or small.

And the energetic Contreras encouraged the crowd to remember how far Cashion has come, especially with a police sub-station in the neighborhood. 

“Our kids can play in the park, now,” he said, reminding his neighbors of the years when gangs fought over the turf.

“Avondale has done a lot of stuff for us. There’s a lot of worse places than here. It just takes us to make it better.

“It’s not going to happen overnight.”

The next Cashion neighborhood meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. March 26 at the Mercy House, 1249 S. 111th Avenue.