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To Save Money, Phoenix Police Send Fewer People To Jail

Phoenix police car
(Photo by Alexandra Olgin - KJZZ)
Phoenix police car.

When an officer takes someone to the Maricopa County Jail, Phoenix pays the county a $285 booking fee. The process can also take a cop off the street for several hours. That’s why Phoenix launched its own booking program in 2010, which is run out of the department's Southern Command Station.

During Wednesday’s public safety subcommittee meeting, Assistant Chief Sandra Renteria told council members their process generally takes anywhere from 20 to 90 minutes of an officer’s time. 

"From the inception of the pilot program in 2010 to the end of 2015, there has been approximately 164,000 prisoners processed through the Central Booking Detail," she said. "It equates to about 75 percent of all adult arrests made citywide during that period."

In 2012, the police and municipal court departments added a Video Initial Appearance Court. It saves money by allowing city judges to set court dates and release conditions for many prisoners who would otherwise be booked into county jail only to be released the next day. 

From the start of the video program in 2012 through the end of 2015, Renteria said they conducted approximately 1,500 video hearings. Of those, 193 hearings resulted in the person being sent to jail with 1,330 hearings resulted in the person being released from the Central Booking facility.

Councilwoman Thelda Williams suggested the police department look for ways to expand the program. 

“Everybody wants more officers in their neighborhood, and the more we can get those officers in and back in their neighborhood, the better off this whole community is," she said.

Central Booking Program Highlights:

  • Made up of 52 positions, which includes both sworn and civilian staff.
  • Coverage is provided 24 hours a day Monday-Saturday with telephonic support on Sundays.
  • Facility has six holding rooms that can accommodate a maximum of 12 prisoners at one time.

As a senior field correspondent, Christina Estes focuses on stories that impact our economy, your wallet and public policy.