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Phoenix chief: More police officers are needed, but city is supportive

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LISTEN: Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams.

PHOENIX — The chief of the Phoenix Police Department has said she needs more officers and that the city has been supportive, countering the claims of a local law enforcement official.

During a Tuesday appearance on KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News, Jeri Williams said she would love to see more badges.

“Absolutely, we need more officers and we’re working and progressing to growing more officers on the street,” she said.

Williams’ comments came a few days after Ken Crane, the president of Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, said it would take the city years to have an adequately staffed police department.

However, she said the city has given her department everything it needs when she asks.

“The city council — anytime we go to ask for bodies, positions, equipment, you name it — we get that,” she said. “They’ve been extremely supportive. We have hundreds more officers on the street now than we had several years ago and we’re going to keep hiring.”

Related: Phoenix, union chief disagree on staffing situation

Crane said last week that the city was lagging in the number of officers it employs.

“We’re still feeling the squeeze of lack of manpower,” he said. “The good thing is about a year ago the department did start hiring. … But it’s going to take years and years and years to dig out of this hole.”

For its part, the city said it was not in crisis mode.

“We have a talented police force and are in full hiring mode to find more officers who want to work for one of the best police departments in the country,” a statement read.

The city wants a force of 3,125 officers on the job by summer. The staffing was at 2,936 and included 110 recruits, according to the statement.

While the debate about the number of officers will likely continue, Williams said she was focused on bigger issues.

“It’s really not about making both (sides) happy,” she said. “It’s about providing the best service possible with the resources we have, keeping the officers on the street safe and our communities safe, too.”

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