Phoenix Police Department begins year with shortage of 550 officers
Looking for a job? The Phoenix Police Department is urgently hiring. As of Monday, the department faces a staffing shortage of 550 “sworn employees,” according to Donna Rossi, director of communications for Phoenix Police.
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“We have a total of 2,575 sworn employees currently and we are budgeted for 3,125. I’ll let you do the math,” Rossi said.
Rossi attributes the short staffing partly on a hiring freeze that happened years ago.
“There was a six-year hiring freeze many years back,” Rossi said. “Part of that is just trying to recover from that hiring freeze. It was a matter of economics during the downturn.”
According to a 2019 survey from the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), police departments across the country are short-staffed.
The IACP attributed the shortage to a number of causes: generational differences, hiring process challenges, challenges to civilian recruitment, and perhaps most famously, public image of law enforcement.
“Agencies strongly believe that public perception of law enforcement limits interest in the profession and is a sizable barrier to effective recruitment,” IACP said.
“Scrutiny of the police, cellphone recordings of interactions between the police and public, media coverage, and popular entertainment portrayals of police have led many young people to view police differently than their parents may have,” IACP said.
But what has been the impact of being so short-staffed?
Evidently, at least one store owner in downtown Phoenix seems to notice an uptick of crime. When asked if crime is getting worse in the area, Sarah Bingham, owner of Antique Sugar, said she believes it is.
“I think that yeah it is but I didn’t attribute it to a lack of police. I just assumed it was more people being down here. It’s always been kind of a sleepy-artsy community and now it seems to be more of a nightlife slash bar area,” Bingham said.
Conversely, Troy Yazzie, owner of Black Bird Bike Co. in downtown Phoenix, says he has not seen an increase in crime and that there are plenty of police in the area.
“Honestly? No. Within the last couple months there were shootings that happened down here, but I don’t correlate that with a lack of cops; there’s plenty of cops down here—at least in the downtown area,” Yazzie said.
As for addressing the Phoenix Police shortage, Rossi says the department is more aggressively recruiting—even taking unprecedented measures to boost its numbers.
“Our recruiting efforts have been going very strong over the last six months, and we are now starting academy classes every six weeks, which is unheard of,” Rossi said.
“The City Council and mayor recently approved hiring bonuses as well as increased salary base. City of Phoenix Police Department is the highest paid police agency in the state of Arizona now. We are attending job fairs across the state as well as in other parts of the country; we are targeting the different community colleges as well as the universities and military bases,” Rossi said.
On June 15, 2022, Phoenix City Council approved a salary increase for Phoenix Police, hoping to incentivize joining the force.
According to FOX 10 Phoenix, new police recruits will have a starting salary of more than $68,000 a year, an increase from about $49,000.
“Phoenix Police Department is a great place to work,” Rossi said. “It’s a great career; it’s a noble career. I think we are on the road to seeing things really pick up when it comes to recruiting and we look forward to that.”
For more information on applying, visit Phoenix Police Department’s recruiting page.