Arizona public universities team up to research police, firefighter staffing shortages

Mar 27, 2023, 4:35 AM

(Facebook Photo/Arizona Board of Regents)...

(Facebook Photo/Arizona Board of Regents)

(Facebook Photo/Arizona Board of Regents)

PHOENIX — Arizona’s three public universities are teaming up to help police and fire departments across the state to solve one of their biggest challenges: staffing shortages.

Using a taxpayer-funded grant from the Arizona Board of Regents, researchers from Arizona State University, the University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University will work to quantify the magnitude of the problem.

They’ll also come up with strategies to recruit and retain front-line and sworn personnel from entry-level to seasoned career positions.

“Those strategies will probably differ for rural and urban areas within the state,” ABOR Chair Lyndel Manson told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

Manson noted staffing shortages is creating problems for many police and fire departments in Arizona.

“We have seen response times increase, which puts the public at greater risk,” she said. “We have also seen the professionals who stay on the job be required to work longer and more hours.”

Manson added working extra shifts can lead to exhaustion, which can result in poor decision-making.

“Those are some of the challenges that are created by not having enough people in those arenas,” she said.

ASU’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy will lead the tri-university research and is expected to release a report in October.

About $800,000 will go toward the research efforts. Funding comes from ABOR’s Technology Research Initiative Fund, which was established through Proposition 301 and utilizes sales tax revenues.

ABOR decided to use $1 million from TRIF to create a series of community grants, such as this one, to address recruitment and retention of officers and firefighters.

“These community grants are really focused on answering questions and solving problems for communities and creating a positive impact through our universities on the state of Arizona,” Manson said.

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Arizona public universities team up to research police, firefighter staffing shortages