Phoenix Law Enforcement Association

Another Backhanded Compliment

A recent Arizona Republic article focused on “rude behavior” on the part of Phoenix Police Officers.  The report stated that in 2009 there were 250 citizen complaints against Phoenix Officers and out of these, 135 complaints were sustained as misconduct.

Please allow some assumptions:

  • Let’s assume that the 66,000 radio calls received each month as reported to the Public Safety Subcommittee this month is accurate.  This totals 792,000 calls for police service a year.
  • Let’s assume that each of these calls only involved one person and that person was having a good day.
  • Let’s assume that these calls also included all officer initiated contacts such as traffic stops, crimes in progress, and citizens in distress.
  • Let’s assume that all of the citizens in these calls were sober, compliant, law-abiding, and had no intention of harming others, harming the officer, or violating any statute.
  • Let’s assume that all 250 citizen complaints were sustained and NOT 135.

With these assumptions in mind, let’s once again remember that Phoenix Police Officers are recruited from the pool of humanity – a source of imperfect men and women.  Let’s also not forget that there’s always room for improvement in any profession or in any person.  Let’s also keep in mind the weight officers carry due to the incredible responsibility, pressure, and complexity generated by the possibility of split-second life-and-death decisions that can come with each and every shift.

The end result of these assumptions and facts: out of 792,000 calls for service only .03% result in a sustained allegation of misconduct.  That’s “point zero three percent.”  Some might consider this statistically insignificant.  Certainly this is far and above a “passing grade.”  This is what some might refer to as summa cum laude – with highest honor.  Others might simply see the numbers found in this article as another backhanded compliment.

How police officers interact with the community is an important issue.  One wonders if the interaction of some elected officials with sworn officers and/or citizens will garner the same level of scrutiny and attention.

CLICK HERE to read the related AZ Republic article on the topic.