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Phoenix Police Department launches new advertising campaign to hire officers

The Phoenix Police Department has launched a new marketing campaign in an effort to fill hundreds of positions.

The tagline is: Rise to serve. Darren Higgs, with ON Advertising, told city council members it’s inspired by the concept of Phoenix rising and, “instills a sense of personal empowerment on urging individuals to embrace community service.”

The campaign is aimed at 18- to- 35 year olds statewide, with a concentration in Phoenix. Higgs said messages will be targeted to the general market, along with women and Hispanic and African American communities.

“We are customizing our online content and advertising to cater to specific markets, including audio platforms, podcasts, online ads, search engines and various social media channels,” he said.

The campaign includes a revamped website with videos on how to apply and testimonials from current officers.

Phoenix Police Commander Sara Garza said their recruiting efforts have shown that it takes about 8 or 9 engagements before someone hits the button to apply.

Phoenix police recruiting, retention efforts are already paying off

For the first time since 2019, the Phoenix Police Department added more officers than it lost last year. The department ended 2023 with 178 officers hired while its attrition was 155.

The department has become more strategic about sending recruiters to high schools, colleges, community gatherings and big events and forming partnerships with athletic teams;

To avoid dismissing applicants too early in the process,  Commander Sara Garza says each one undergoes a multi-level review, and applicants no longer face an initial written test.

“And we haven't lowered any standards, which is important to note,” she said. “So, our recruits still have to pass a 400 question mandated test by Arizona Post before they can become certified police officers at the end of the academy.”

Phoenix has also hired a mental and physical performance coach that works with recruits at the academy. 

“Law enforcement, public safety can be very difficult, and there's trauma involved but the resiliency of the wear and tear of the job - if we can build that throughout the hiring process, but also maintain it through the academy, get good practices in so that they can continue in their career, we believe that they will be really successful throughout their career, and it will help with attrition rates,” Garza said.

In an effort to add and keep women officers, they created a mentorship program. Phoenix signed  a 30 by 30 Pledge, a national initiative to recruit and retain more women officers. The goal is to have women comprise 30% of recruits by 2030.

The department has about 2,500 sworn positions filled with another 500-plus open.

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