Panelists tell three stories about a puzzle that made headlines — only one of which is true.
Budget Woes Prevent City From Hiring New Police Officers
The hiring of police officers in the Valley and around the state slowed during the Great Recession. Now some agencies are looking to hire officers again. The recent recruitments may not be enough.
A large banner in front of the Arizona Department of Public Safety headquarters in Phoenix reads “Now Hiring.” The department needs 187 new officers to fill holes left from extreme budget cuts during the recent recession.
Law enforcement agencies around Arizona are beginning to hire again, including a handful of cities in the Valley. Cities such as Mesa, Glendale and Surprise. Missing from that list is Phoenix.
The Phoenix Police Department hasn’t had a graduating class of new cops in six years, choosing rather to move reserve officers to the streets and take lateral hires.
Retired Phoenix PD Commander Jeff Hynes teaches criminology at Glendale Community College. He said the low number of sworn officers currently on the streets is concerning.
“I believe that’s where your threat is. You’re pulling your officers out of these community positions, out of these bonds with the community, and as you do that you are placing your other officers on the street, not only in the reduction with force numbers, but your placing these other officers at risk, because they lose that bond with the community,” Hynes said.
Phoenix Police spokesman Sgt. Trent Crump said they too are mindful how years of not hiring new officers affects workload.
“We’re getting to a staffing level that is concerning that we’re going to be able to maintain a level of service that we want to provide to the residents," said Crump."But those are the types of things, it doesn’t have to be the first responder that goes, but it maybe detectives that are following up on your burglary case or your assault case that are getting thinned out, and those are now taking much longer or were having less success."
Crump said the city currently has about 2,800 sworn officers. That’s 500 fewer officers from five years ago, the last time the city hired new cops.
Until the city can resolve its budget shortfalls, there are no plans to hire more officers anytime soon.