Since holding our December 5, 2016 press conference, PLEA has continued in our mission to find ways to get the Phoenix Police Department staffed at a level consistent with national averages of 2.5 officers per 1000 people for cities with a population of over 250,000. Phoenix has a population of approximately 1.7 million people.
What is often overlooked in this equation is the unique dynamic that the City of Phoenix encompasses approximately 530 square miles, making us larger than Los Angeles in land mass. Being spread out north to south from Anthem to the Gila River Indian Reservation and east to west from Scottsdale, Tempe, and Chandler to Glendale, and Tolleson, with a number of mountain ranges and open desert in between coupled with limited freeway/surface street accessibility compounds patrol response. No matter how you divide up the city into precincts and squad areas, you only have a finite number of police officers to cover the area.
PLEA President Ken Crane spoke at the Public Safety Subcommittee meeting at City Hall on January 11, 2017 regarding this very issue and touched on the need to accelerate the hiring process. He specifically mentioned that current recruiting efforts in the Valley are hamstrung by the fact that many other valley agencies routinely show up at the same job fairs and the pool of potential recruit candidates has essentially been “fished out” however, the City will not go out of state to recruit.
There is also appears to be a lack of desire to recruit at major military installations, which can accomplish a number of goals:
- Diversity to reflect the makeup of the citizens who reside in Phoenix
- Candidates who have already expressed a desire to serve
- Candidates who are well-educated and have life experience
- Candidates who are physically fit
- Candidates who are used to regimentation and stress
- Candidates who are self-disciplined and have time management skills
There was confusion on agenda item #2 with regard to a service agreement between the PD and the US Marshal’s service on payment of monies to apprehend fugitives. It was PLEA’s belief that the PD would be paying the US Marshals to do the job of the FAID unit. In reality, the agreement was for the Marshals to reimburse PPD $17,000 as partial payment for one officer currently serving on a joint US Marshal’s task force.
Later that evening members of the PLEA Board attended the Mayors Neighborhood Advisory Committee at the Burton Barr library. Chief Williams spoke to the group and fielded questions. She explained that responses to priority one calls are now averaging 7 minutes. PLEA was able to speak to about a dozen neighborhood leaders from around the city regarding the manpower issues confronting the department. Our comments were well received and we could tell many of the citizens in attendance were in the dark regarding the true state of affairs surrounding the staffing issues on the police department. See video below for PLEA’s comments at the Public Safety Subcommittee.