PHOENIX, AZ — The Phoenix Police Department has brought on more officers over the past year, but the head of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association said the staffing remains at a dangerously low level.
Sgt. Mercedes Fortune with the Phoenix Police Department told KTAR News 92.3 FM that the number of current personnel is 2,945 officers. In June 2017, that number was 2,902.
“The challenge for the last few years has been attrition,” she said in a written statement.
“With this in mind, we continue to aggressively recruit officers and have made some changes in our hiring process to facilitate those efforts.”
But Ken Crane, president of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, said there was still a dangerously-low level of people being hired as opposed to those leaving.
“We’re told we hired 300 (officers) in the last year. In the same time period, 291 left,” he said.
“So, a net gain of nine.”
Crane said a lot is working against the department, including the fallout from a years-long hiring freeze, what he calls a growing tide of anti-police sentiment, department benefit cuts and an improving economy.
“These corporations out there, they’re looking for sharp, young, bright, dynamic kids — just like we are,” Crane said. “So, you have to have incentives to get people to come and want to do this job.
“Department-wide…just under a thousand could walk tomorrow if they wanted to,” he added.
“What’s the reality of that happening? Slim to none. But…you can only tell people in an organization to keep doing more with less for so long.”
Fortune said among recruiting changes are fast-tracking out-of-state and military applicants, as well as thrice-monthly opportunities for both the written and physical exams.