Phoenix Police Chief Michael Sullivan updates on crime reduction plan, DOJ investigation

Aug 14, 2023, 4:35 AM | Updated: 3:17 pm

PHOENIX — It’s been a busy summer for the Phoenix Police Department.

Chief Michael Sullivan joined KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show on Friday and gave updates on the new crime reduction plan, Department of Justice Investigation and staffing.

Here’s what he had to say:

Q: There’s been kind of a mixed bag of some crimes went up a little bit, others dropped down. Do you attribute that to the new focus on the crime reduction plan? Is that part of why this is

A: The men and women of the Phoenix Police Department are focused on making sure that we drive down crime. Our first six months, I’m encouraged and we have momentum despite all the challenges we have with staffing. We’re making good progress.

Q: How are the officers, the people that are in the field, how do they feel about this plan?

A: What I can tell you is as officers, we like being pointed on what we’re expected to do. They like having a plan. They like we joined to help keep people safe. Having direction in that area is something that’s always appreciated. And that’s some appreciation that I’ve had officers come up and tell me directly.

Q: Can you give us an update on where this Department of Justice investigation is? And do you see any light at the end of the tunnel for this being over soon?

A: That’s a good question for the Department of Justice is what I tell everybody when I get that question. But it’s gone on for two years. We just passed the two-year date of this investigation. What I can tell you is how we’ve cooperated throughout the investigation, providing over 20,000 body worn videos — imagine the hours with that 80,000 documents — over 200 hours of ride-alongs and then over 100 interviews with our employees.

We had some challenges at the beginning being able to provide information because we required the Department of Justice to follow the rules that are out there with criminal justice-protected information, we offered several solutions that they turned down. Eventually we got to a spot to be able to share that information and the pandemic put us back several months. But I think we’re at the point that we’re starting to wrap up.

Q: As far as staffing and recruiting goes, are you on the rise as far as recruiting and retention? Do you see that the Phoenix Police Department as far as size is going in the right direction?

A: I would love to say that there’s an explosion. We’re doing better than we were last year. We’re about 2% down at the staffing level where we were at the same time last year and that number is shrinking. There’s more people in the academy today than there was this time last year. But it’s going to be a very, very slow process as we begin to do that. That’s why it’s important for us to bring on additional professional staff like civilian investigators and crime analysts to be able to augment what we do.

Q: Do you recruit in other places to try to get those officers to come to Phoenix?

A: I’m glad you asked that question because about a month ago, we had an officer from Seattle who came down here and came on as a civilian investigator who saw what the Phoenix Police Department was like, saw the culture here said, ‘I want to be a sworn officer again’ after a full career up in Seattle. So, we have seen that.

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Phoenix Police Chief Michael Sullivan updates on crime reduction plan, DOJ investigation