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Phoenix creates new job to support understaffed police department

On Wednesday, the Phoenix City Council approved a job classification plan to address the city’s understaffed police department

The new job title is police civilian investigator. The goal is to hire people to handle behind the scenes administrative tasks that don’t require a sworn officer so patrol officers can remain on patrol and detectives can focus on responding to scenes, following up on leads, and interviewing witnesses and suspects. 

Because the department doesn’t have enough patrol officers, some detectives are being pulled off their assignments to handle patrol duties. Phoenix has a minimum staffing level of 1,096 patrol officers. On Nov. 11, Executive Assistant Chief Mike Kurtenbach told the city's public safety subcommittee, the department was 51 patrol officers below the minimum level. 

Agencies across Arizona and the country are struggling to hire officers. Earlier this year, Phoenix began advertising hiring bonuses up to $7,500. As of last month, 791 Phoenix officers were eligible to retire, 28% of the force.

The hourly pay range for a police civilian investigator is $24.89-$37.87. Assignments may include the Drug Enforcement Bureau, Family Investigations Bureau, Property Crimes Bureau and Violent Crimes Bureau. 

According to a City Council report, the pay range and job level aligns with similar positions in Gilbert, Mesa, Peoria and the Arizona Department of Public Safety.

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