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Shakeup Coming To Phoenix Police

The department said its patrol officers have decreased in number by almost 200 in the past two years. This, in turn, has increased average response times from five to six minutes.

Phoenix PD had been paying officers overtime and tapping detectives to fill in the gaps, but Chief Jeri Williams has decided to take a more long-term approach to address the shortage.

Phoenix Police spokesperson Police Sgt. Mercedes Fortune said the department conducted an analysis and identified 162 officers and 15 sergeants that will be removed from their current duties and reassigned to patrol.

"We want to make sure that we are still being true to our core responsibility," Fortune said, "which is to make sure we protect and serve our community.”

Many units were affected by the changes. An entire detail of 20 officers previously assigned to Fugitive Apprehension will now work patrol, as will many other officers and detectives in specialized roles.

Ken Crane is the President of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, he said many officers are frustrated with the reorganization.

“We’re cannibalizing the police department to go man the front lines of patrol.”  However, Crane said police leadership is not to blame. “The Mayor, the Council and the City Manager, they are charged with making sure we have a viable public safety infrastructure in the city and they didn’t do it.”

He said years of underfunding the department has left them unable to expand their ranks.

Even now that the department is hiring more officers, it still isn’t enough to account for attrition. Crane said there are currently more than 700 sworn personnel that are eligible for retirement.

Jimmy Jenkins was a producer and senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2014 to 2021.