By Corinne Murdock |
The city of Phoenix is facing the reality of a dwindling police force with violent crime surging ahead. This was revealed during the Phoenix City Council’s Public Safety and Justice Subcommittee meeting on Wednesday.
Phoenix Police Department (PPD) reported that they’ve experienced a “continued decline” in the number of officers over the past two years, despite all recruitment efforts. They reported 172 less officers between March of last year and July of this year. Since July, PPD reported having 60 less officers. PPD also reported that it is 42 officers short of minimum staffing level for optimal patrol operations.
“Despite aggressive hiring campaigns over the last two fiscal years, like most other law enforcement agencies across the country the department has experienced a continued decline in the number of filled sworn positions,” said PPD. “On average the department is currently losing approximately 30 officers per month and expects to lose over 100 additional officers by mid-December 2021.”
The department also reported that officers are carrying a higher number of caseloads on violent crimes than recommended – anywhere from three to eleven times the amount they should.
Last year, the FBI reported that homicides rose by nearly 44 percent while aggravated assaults rose by over 24 percent.
On Tuesday, Councilman Sal DiCiccio posted some of the research ahead of the committee meeting. He emphasized that the findings were alarming – increases in violent crime in every district and a reduced numbers of officers.
“There is rising crime in EVERY council district In Phoenix. Does that honestly make you and your family feel safe knowing that? We need change and we need it now,” wrote Diciccio. “800 police officers short [;] Response times increasing [;] ‘Defunding Police’ rhetoric[.]”
According to Phoenix City Manager Ed Zuercher, the largest spikes in crime occurred in districts 4, 5, 7, and 8. Those districts are led by Councilmembers Laura Pastor, Betty Guardado, Yassamin Ansari, and Vice Mayor Carlos Garcia – those who voted to install a police oversight board.
The vice mayor pushed to reduce police funding greatly during budget considerations earlier this year, which would’ve divested millions from PPD to fund public transit and child care. Additionally, Garcia and Guardado voted against a contingency that officers receive a raise in exchange for additional accountability measures.
In response to PPD’s reports of increased crime and less officers, law enforcement advocate and DiCiccio’s former Chief of Staff Sam Stone told AZ Free News that councilmembers supportive of “defunding the police” rhetoric were to blame.
“The council came one vote from defunding the police last year. One vote. Crime is skyrocketing. Murders are up citywide,” stated Stone. “People are being killed. And this crazy defund movement is to blame. That anyone on this council would seriously continue to try to cut police is just insane.”