At the time of this writing, there are currently 2,695 total sworn police officer positions in the City of Phoenix Police Department. Of that number, there are only 996 total officers patrolling the streets, responding to calls for service, investigating violent crimes, responding to medical calls for service and conducting community policing. When will the bleeding stop! Just last year, the Department lost 274 sworn positions to retirement, resignation, termination and lateraling to other agencies. There are already 137 officers scheduled to leave before July.
With many police officers being tenured on the Department due to a hiring freeze for many years, you must ask, “How many will we be losing this year?” There is a minimal hiring bonus, minimal retention bonus and minimal lateral bonus to entice qualified people to work here. Other police agencies are offering higher hourly pay with bonuses across the board, advertising in person, on social media and telling applicants, “Come work for us and leave Phoenix P.D.” They use propaganda slogans like, “Our city council cares about our police officers” and “Our police department has your back.” Guess what — it’s working!
Phoenix has a population of approximately 1.7 million citizens and only 996 patrol officers serving them.
The Phoenix Police Department is currently in the process of a patrol-wide rebidding process/manpower reallocation, or whatever fancy term you want to label it. When you start to move detectives from investigative bureaus and eliminate criminal investigative functions to fill vacancies in the patrol, we are bleeding. The Department has eliminated the entire auto theft bureau, eliminated training staff (including the entire driver training staff and the entire rifle detail), removed burglary detectives and eliminated numerous community action and neighborhood enforcement officers. With the Department eliminating some of these details, they have lost some of the most qualified subject-matter experts in the state. These are just some of the positions that are heading back to the street to answer calls for service and putting on the uniform. PLEA had questions about staffing and caseloads on current detectives, who will be absorbing the cases of other detectives who are being forced to leave (sounding the alarm).
Executive Assistant Chief Michael Kurtenbach asked PLEA, “Where should I pull bodies from to go to patrol?” That is not PLEA’s position to make that decision. We have been seeing this coming for over a couple of years now, and command staff has been reporting the critical bottom-line number of officers on patrol, but it keeps changing. It started at 1,096, and now the Department is claiming we cannot get below 1,000 on patrol. Phoenix has a population of approximately 1.7 million citizens and only 996 patrol officers serving them. The community should be disgusted to see the recent attacks on our officers, most notably, nine being shot on February 11 by a crazed gunman who had no regard for human life.
On March 13, two officers were shot at in their patrol vehicle, with one of them being struck by gunfire. This job is hard enough running from call to call with minimum staffing on every shift in every precinct. Officers need to make a deliberate decision to be safe. Do not advise on any call, ever! The most mundane and normal call can turn into a fight for your life, and you don’t want to be required to have to justify your actions on why you didn’t wait for backup.
May 15 was National Peace Officers Memorial Day. Don’t forget all our brothers and sisters who made the ultimate sacrifice. Be safe!