Phoenix police are looking to add more than 30 civilian positions due to staffing shortages

PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) – Phoenix police are seeking city manager approval to add 33 civilian positions to their department amid severe staffing shortages.

“The reality is that we need help with all of our positions, and our civilian positions are critical for sworn people to do theirs,” Deputy Chief of Police Michael Kurtenbach said in an interview last week. concerning the reassignment of agents.

Last week, the department announced it would reassign some detectives from specialist units to street patrol to help fill staffing shortages. Phoenix police had 274 officers on leave in 2021.

The City of Phoenix Diary reads, “Due to current and future shortages of sworn personnel, it is critical that the Department identify functions currently performed by sworn personnel, which can be performed by civilians.”

“We answer calls not in progress. Mostly property crimes, stolen vehicles, burglaries, commercial, residential, lots of theft, shoplifting,” Shannon O’Leary explained. “Anything that’s not in progress that won’t require a real sworn officer, those will be the type of calls we’ll make.”

O’Leary has been a civilian investigator with the Mesa Police Department for eight years. Mesa Police adopted a civilian program in 2009.

“The patrollers, they love it. It helps them so much to focus on a bit higher crime areas,” O’Leary said. “They don’t have to worry about those property calls anymore because they’re asking us to take care of that call, so they love that we’re there with them and handling them and taking care of them. ‘them.”

O’Leary said she had to go through about 2-3 months of training. “We learn Title 13, the penal codes. We learn to write reports; we obviously learn the radio codes because we’re on the radio just like the officers,” O’Leary explained.

While job descriptions may differ from department to department, O’Leary said it’s clear how beneficial civilian positions are to officers and the community.

“Property calls when there is no threat or anything, sometimes these service calls, these victims, can wait up to 8 hours for a patrol if there are a lot of high priority calls to which they’re sent,” O’Leary said. . “They don’t wait very long. We are able to make it happen and provide them with a very high level of customer service, take everything that happens to them very seriously; we are able to provide them with much more information than sometimes the patrollers that they lead and shoot and have to get to where they are. Their stress level is very different from ours when it comes to the types of calls they’re going to take.

Phoenix police say they are asking for 25 civilian investigator positions and eight police assistants. Civilian investigators would support the Bureaus of Violent Crimes, Family Investigations, Property Crimes and Drug Enforcement. Police Assistants will respond to calls for service not requiring the presence of a sworn officer, assist with civilian traffic collisions, provide traffic control, and respond to offences.

The Phoenix Law Enforcement Association (PLEA) released a statement on the proposal:

“The Phoenix Police Department is facing a severe personnel shortage that is affecting every unit in the department. While we appreciate the effort to add more civilian positions during this staffing crisis, the Phoenix City Council must enact a long-term plan to properly fund and staff sworn officers in the Phoenix Police Department.

Phoenix police say they already have budget funding for these civilian positions. City Council will discuss this agenda item at Wednesday’s meeting.

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