'This Isn’t A Checked Box For Us': Phoenix Police Launch New Hiring Tool

By Christina Estes
Published: Tuesday, January 19, 2021 - 2:36pm
Updated: Friday, January 22, 2021 - 1:23pm

chief talks to written exam participants
Christina Estes/KJZZ
Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams welcomes a group of applicants before they take the written exam on Feb. 1, 2019.

Qualified applicants going through Phoenix’s hiring process to become a police officer will soon face questions from the community. Later this month the department plans to launch a community hiring review board. 

Phoenix police applicants who’ve made it through written and physical tests and background investigations will face an evaluation panel including a chairperson, two police department representatives and two community members. Questions during the 20-minute interview will focus on the applicant’s qualifications, personal ethics and philosophy of community engagement. 

Assistant Chief Sean Connolly told the city’s public safety subcommittee the panel will stick to established questions only.

“We can’t have randomness within the process where one application received the four questions and three or four additional questions and the other didn’t because then we could expose ourselves to some unfair treatment,” he said. “But I’m sure if you were to see these questions you would be proud of them, I think they reflect the type of questions that we should be asking applicants from a community service perspective.”

The panel will share its recommendations and feedback with the department’s employment services bureau. 

“This isn’t a check box for us, this isn’t something for us to just say we’re doing,” Connolly said. “I know the background investigators, I spoke to them personally, they think this is a fabulous thing and I think at it’s true nature it is us continuing to evolve and ensure that we are building the best community driven police department into the future.”

A hiring sign on a Phoenix police precinct
Sky Schaudt/KJZZ
A hiring sign on a Phoenix Cactus Park Police Precinct in January 2021.

Community members must undergo background checks along with a two-hour training session to volunteer for a two-year assignment, which will include monthly meetings. They were selected by the department based on feedback from community engagement officers and precinct commanders who are familiar with various neighborhood and community groups. Connolly said there are currently 35 members in the volunteer pool. The demographics are: 60% White, 23% Hispanic, 17% Black, with 57% female and 43% male.

Councilmember Carlos Garcia asked Connolly how people can join the volunteer pool for future consideration.

“We welcome additional range and breadth within the pool so if there are people we would simply ask them to reach out through their community relationships,” Connolly said. “If they don’t have any relationships in the community that exist that have communication with us we are more than happy to connect with you and/or via our social media to bring them into the pool.”

Phoenix Police Community Hiring Review Board 

  • Two community member volunteers rotationally selected from the pool of approved community members.
  • One civilian supervisor from the Phoenix Police Department. 
  • One sworn supervisor from the Phoenix Police Department assigned to the position of field training officer sergeant or resource lieutenant. · 
  • The Employment Services Bureau commander or delegate acting as the board chairperson (non-evaluating position).