It was a busy week at the state Capitol. We’ll recap all the week’s top stories.
What’s The Full Cost Of Hiring More Phoenix Police Officers?
Phoenix city staffers will spend the summer trying to figure out what it will cost to hire more than 800 police officers. The bill goes beyond the new hires and could impact other departments and possibly the sales tax.
By this time next year, Phoenix should have 3,125 sworn police officers. That’s about two officers per 1,000 residents. To reach what’s generally considered the national average of 2.5 officers per 1,000 residents, Phoenix would need to come up with at least $125 million to cover the extra cops, cars and gear.
The city’s budget and research director, Jeff Barton, said “$125 million is equal to essentially the parks and library departments combined."
Barton told the public safety subcommittee a new officer costs $109,000 per year which includes salary, benefits, and pension and each officer has about $12,000 of personal equipment.
He broke down the $125 million this way:
• $91 million for 837 extra officers
• $34 million for vehicles and equipment
Barton said coming up with the cash would require either additional revenue, like a sales tax increase, or cuts to non-public safety departments of around 30 percent. And, that still wouldn’t cover support staff.
“Such as communication operators, crime scene staff, staff in the courtroom, staff in the prosecutor’s office,” he said. “Additional staff in facilities and public works because you’re adding an additional 418 vehicles to the fleet, that would take additional staffing as well.”
Assistant City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. said there could also be real estate costs, “The current precincts could not house 837 more bodies and still function efficiently when you look at when they were built, the size and square footage.”
While Dohoney suggested the city might need to build more or larger precincts, Ken Crane, president of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association told the subcommittee the union understands the need for building and infrastructure but, “All the cops you’re hiring are not going into precincts.”
He said roughly a third of the force is out in precincts with about 1,000 currently assigned to patrol.
“It is doable,” Crane said. “We remain steadfast in our position that we need to find the money. We need to find the money to staff our public safety infrastructure appropriately.”
Barton said there are many reasons why the 2.5 officers per 1,000 ratios should not be considered as a best practice. He cited a statement from the International Association of Chiefs of Police which said ratios are totally inappropriate as a basis for staffing decisions. Barton said older, more densely populated cities are staffed with ratios above 2.5 per 1,000 while cities in the West are staffed in the 2.0 range because of lower population density.
This fall, city staff is expected to present more details on the total cost and possible ways to cover the bill.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been updated with additional information provided by the city of Phoenix regarding officer ratios.