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Phoenix police increasing recruitment efforts, plans to hire 3,000 officers

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PHOENIX — The Phoenix Police Department is ramping up recruitment efforts as it plans to hire more than 3,000 officers by next June.

“We’re actively recruiting from across all demographic segments of the community,” Commander Brian Lee, who heads the department’s Employment Services Bureau, said.

“We firmly believe it’s important to make sure that the folks we hire, as new officers, are truly representative of the communities they’re ultimately going to serve.”

The department endured a hiring freeze from 2008 to 2014 that saw its number of sworn officers dip to fewer than 2,500 in 2015.

With the hoped-for 3,125 officers, recruiting has begun in earnest.

“Community events, job fairs here, locally,” Lee said. “We have well-established connections with a lot of these schools that have criminal justice programs.”

But at least one police organization said the 3,000-officer goal was not enough.

Ken Crane, president of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, said a city the size of Phoenix needed at least 4,000 sworn officers – both for the growing population and the distances officers must travel to calls.

“If you staff at 2.5 [officers] per thousand [citizens], that’s roughly 4,000 to 4,200 cops from the chief on down.

“Also keep in mind you have to have that detective infrastructure on the back end,” he said. “When those patrol cops are out there generating reports, who do they go to? They get funneled to detectives, who have to do a lot of legwork and follow up.”

In letters to the city council, Crane’s agency said hiring at least 1,000 more officers will cost about $125 million over the next few years. This amount included equipment, additional vehicles, and training.

City Manager Ed Zuercher disagreed. In his own recent letter to PLEA, he said 3,125 officers was what the city can afford.

“I think it is important to focus on actually reaching the 3,125 level before it is declared to be insufficient,” Zuercher said.

The proposed Phoenix budget was just under $4 billion. The city council will vote on it later this month.

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