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Union representing Chandler cops calls for more officers to be hired

(Facebook Photo/ Chandler Police Department)

PHOENIX – The union representing more than 270 members that make up the Chandler Police Department has proposed a five-year plan to hire an additional 83 sworn officers.

The plan hopes to address police staffing shortages in the city of Chandler, which the Chandler Law Enforcement Association (CLEA) believes is long overdue.

“The long and short of it is, we have not added police officers to the police department in Chandler in almost 13 years,” Michael Collins, president of CLEA, told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Tuesday.

Due to the economic downturn in 2008, Collins said the city cut staffing and has yet to prioritize it.

The department is now witnessing major growing pains and officers are feeling burned out.

“To say that the last year has put a strain on our already thin resources is an understatement,” Collins said.

As staffing levels have failed to keep up with the rapid population and business growth in Chandler, CLEA says positions have been reassigned to meet only basic patrol needs, leaving a gap in other investigative and proactive policing divisions.

“Leaves have been canceled, we’ve leaned on overtime to fill any vacancies, and quite honestly, our officers are tired of working that – you can only work so many extended shifts,” Collins said.

Matt Burdick, communications and public affairs director for the city of Chandler, in response to comments made by CLEA said “There has been an effort in recent years to evaluate duties being performed by sworn positions and converting some of those assignments to be performed by civilian positions.”

Chief Sean Duggan told KTAR News 92.3 FM in a statement that the department currently has an authorized sworn complement of 334 officers, the same amount as in 2008. That number reduced to 320 in 2014 through attrition due to the recession before 14 officers were added in the years following.

“We are working together to develop a staffing plan that will enable us to continue to safely meet the challenges of 21st century policing,” Duggan said.

A few of those 21st century policing challenges include internet-based crime such as human trafficking, identity theft and exploitation crimes of children, with Duggan saying these crimes are not necessarily reflected in traditional crime measurements.

Duggan recently spoke with the city council about these challenges and others officers and professional staff face daily.

The Chandler City Council will have a micro-retreat meeting that is open to the public from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesday at the Tumbleweed Recreation Center.

Annual budget briefings are expected to take place on Friday beginning at 8 a.m. in the City Council Chambers. The annual budget set to take effect July 1 will be discussed, which includes the police department’s budget.

Residents can provide their input by contacting the Chandler City Council by email.

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