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Phoenix PD continues to face shortage of officers amid calls for defunding

(KTAR News 92.3 FM Photo/Gabriel Gamiño)

PHOENIX — Protesters in Phoenix and across the country can be heard calling for the defunding of police departments as they take to the streets in response to the in-custody death of George Floyd in Minnesota.

Despite Phoenix’s size and rate of population growth, its police department continues to face a shortage of officers on the streets.

The Phoenix Law Enforcement Association represents police officers in Phoenix and the group wants to be part of the conversation regarding defunding police and what it could mean for the city of Phoenix.

“People are making a big deal about the amount we are funded, it takes that – we’re the fifth largest city in the United States,” President of PLEA Britt London told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Mike Broomhead on Tuesday.

In the wake of Floyd’s death, the shortage is only getting worse, according to London.

PLEA estimates nearly 800 officers within the Phoenix Police Department are eligible for retirement.

“Why would anyone want to stay?” London added. “I think that’s kind of what this whole national narrative we’re seeing is – they want the police forces to disappear, they want officers to feel that way, and I hate to say it, but it looks like it may be working.”

According to the city of Phoenix, as of last month, 3,042 police officer positions were filled — including recruits.

With the recent approval of the city’s budget, there’s now a clearer image of how the city hopes to address the shortage of police.

The Phoenix Police Department plans to hire 300 officers in Fiscal Year 2020-2021 to account for attrition and to reach a sustainable hiring target of 3,125 officers.

But with nationwide protests over police brutality and the city of Phoenix adding about 70 officers to its force over each of the past three years, recruitment isn’t looking good.

With less officers patrolling and resources spread thin, PLEA describes the morale within the department as low. The group says officers feel unsupported from the city and that their collective voice is going unheard.

PLEA adds that officers have continued to work long days and long hours ensuring safety during protests in Phoenix where their own defunding is being called for.

On Monday, the Phoenix City Council passed its annual budget, which included $3 million in funding for a police oversight board that will be included within the City Manager’s Office budget — not the Phoenix Police budget.

They money is expected to come from the city’s general fund.

Arizona open and hiring: If you’re looking for job openings, visit ktar.com/arizonahiring.

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