Headcount cap to ease budget shortfall could exacerbate DPS trooper shortage in Arizona

May 1, 2024, 4:15 AM

PHOENIX — The Arizona Governor’s office wants to implement a headcount cap on many government positions, according to a letter sent to state agency directors on April 19.

“It is a budgetary savings exercise,” Gov. Katie Hobbs spokesman Christian Slater told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

Leaders want to implement the headcount to manage the state’s budget shortfall. However, it could exacerbate the longstanding shortage of DPS troopers, according to John Simon, the president of the Arizona Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 32.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety has been dramatically understaffed for a long time, he said during an interview with KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show last Wednesday.

“We don’t have enough troopers as it stands right now,” Simon said. “This is gonna have a huge impact to our operations at DPS if we can’t keep growing as an agency and adding more state troopers to start solving this problem.”

How severe is the shortage of DPS troopers in Arizona?

There are eight million registered vehicles on the road and six million registered drivers, Simon said.

“Based on our population here in Arizona, we’re projecting that we should have at least 3,000 sworn Arizona state troopers, just to keep up with the growth,” he added.

DPS currently has 952 sworn state troopers, which includes sergeants, captains and majors, Simon said.

“There’s currently 323 trooper vacancies under this year’s budget,” he said. “If you look at all the positions at DPS, under both state and federal funding, we’re dealing with a vacancy rate of about 28%.”

That’s like an 11-man football team with eight players, Simon added.

“No quarterback, no running back and we’re missing a lineman,” he said. “We can’t keep up with this ever-expanding highway system, the booming population in the state … without being able to feel the complete team.”

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Headcount cap to ease budget shortfall could exacerbate DPS trooper shortage in Arizona