PHOENIX — A Phoenix police officer called it quits and made the announcement over his unit radio after being asked to work more hours, according to a local news report.
The officer blames being overworked while running on inadequate sleep and insufficient nutrition in a resignation letter, according to azfamily.com.
Although the police agency isn’t specifically commenting on that officer’s very public resignation, it highlights a broader problem with the Phoenix Police Department’s staffing.
Phoenix Law Enforcement Association President Britt London released a statement regarding the staffing shortages at the department.
“The number of Phoenix police officers is at an all-time low and is not projected to improve any time soon,” the police association leader said. “With less than 3,000 sworn personnel and violent crime on the rise, the Phoenix Police Department will be unable to provide the safe, quality police service that Phoenicians deserve. We must begin building a comprehensive public safety infrastructure to sustain the fastest growing city in the nation.”
At least one city council member says they are in a crisis, with the police department losing an average of 21 officers per month, the news outlet reported.
The Phoenix Police Department’s staff sits at 2,775, according to Phoenix Police Executive Assistant Chief Michael Kurtenbach. However, that is woefully short of the city council’s funding for 3,125 sworn officers, azfamily.com reported.
The crisis staffing issue was raised during a Wednesday hearing where Councilman Jim Waring received news from police that a third of their officers with 15 years of experience are quitting before reaching pension.
“So they are five years or so away from retirement and they’re walking away from literally with the pensions the way they are, for hundreds of thousands of dollars. They’re effectively saying, ‘I’d rather pay hundreds of thousands of dollars than be a police officer for one more day’,” said Waring.
Furthermore, the agency is losing new officers as well, according to Kurtenbach.
Waring said there could be several reasons why there are shortages. However, he primarily blames the “defund the police” movement as the primary cause.
“I think it’s really unfortunate how officers get treated,” said Waring. “We are not defunding the police in Phoenix, but if we can’t hire officers, then the effect is basically the same.”
Kurtenbach confirmed they have fewer officers and more emergency calls for service in 2021, up to nearly 10% increase, azfamily.com reported.
As a result, Waring is focused on additional incentives to attract and maintain staff. He also proposed bringing officers out of retirement.
Vice Mayor Carlos Garcia suggested getting more duties off of officers’ plates.
“Yes, we can continue to sound the alarm. Yes, we can continue to freak ourselves or the public out and I think it’s warranted. I think people should be worried but I think what are those solutions with what we have,” Garcia said.
The department is offering a $7,500 hiring bonus to certain new hires. The assistant city manager said the city is developing a plan to attract younger recruits.
While all of this is well and good, the city seems to be misunderstanding why police are fleeing, according to staff members at Law Officer. It isn’t due to money issues, it’s the anti-police vibe in the country, where aggressive prosecutors are successfully jailing cops who are required to make difficult decisions in a split-second, and activists are demanding “police reform,” which usually comes in the form of harsh restrictions and punishments. All the while, we have a “non-compliance” problem with criminals and police are taking the blame for “failing to deescalate” hostile encounters.
All of this is happening as “civilians” who lack law enforcement training and experience are sitting in judgment.
In the meantime, “criminal justice reform” usually means allowing violent criminals out of jail and/or neutering officers’ ability to impact lawlessness. Street cops are tired of getting blamed for the menagerie of social ills, whether it’s the increase in crime or “riots” that are categorized as “protests.”
Corrupt politicians have created this mess as they’ve legitimized violent dissent and there is no introspection. Add to that the unreasonable COVID-19 vaccine mandates, and yes, cops are fleeing the business of policing.
It is a complex problem with an easy fix, but the solutions — in far too many jurisdictions — are unattainable since an anti-police culture has been seeded, watered, and cultivated. Is the shift in power permanent? … Law Officer hopes not, but stay tuned.