Phoenix Police Shortage

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The Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, the union representing Phoenix police officers, says the shortage of officers is at a “crisis” level. PLEA vice president Britt London will talk about the shortage and what can be done to alleviate it.

TED SIMONS: COMING UP NEXT ON ARIZONA "HORIZON," THE UNION REPRESENTING PHOENIX POLICE SAYS THE CITY'S LAW ENFORCEMENT MANPOWER SHORTAGE IS AT CRISIS LEVEL. ALSO, WE WILL HEAR ABOUT THE EXPLORATION OF AN ASTEROID THAT COULD BE THE REMNANTS OF A FAILED PLANET. AND HE WILL HIT THE LINKS ARE A GOLF PROGRAM THAT ENCOURAGES GIRL WITH EVERY DRIVE, CHIP AND PUTT. THAT IS NEXT ON ARIZONA "HORIZON."
VIDEO: ARIZONA "HORIZON" IS MADE POSSIBLE BY CONTRIBUTIONS FROM THE FRIENDS OF ARIZONA PBS, MEMBERS OF YOUR PBS STATION, THANK YOU.
TED SIMONS: GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO ARIZONA "HORIZON." I AM TED SIMONS. THE ARIZONA SENATE TODAY THE PROPOSAL TO EXPAND THE SCHOOL'S VOUCHER PROGRAM WAS APPROVED. IT ALLOWS TAX MONEY TO BE USED FOR PRIVATE AND RELIGIOUS SCHOOL TUITION. THE PREVIOUS AMENDMENT INCREASED EVER SIX YEARS AND THAT VERSION OF THE PROPOSAL IS IN THE HOUSE WHERE A FEW REPUBLICAN HOLDOUTS ARE BEING ENCOURAGED BY THE GOVERNOR TO VOTE YES. WE WILL HAVE MORE ON THE VOUCHER EXPANSION TOMORROW ON THE JOURNALIST'S ROUNDTABLE. A SIX YEAR HIRE FREEZE, COUPLED WITH ATTRITION AND RETIREMENT HAS LEFT THE POLICE DEPARTMENT UNDER STAFF SO MUCH SO THE UNION THAT REPRESENTS PHOENIX POLICE OFFICERS SAYS THE SHORTAGE IS AT CRISIS LEVEL. HERE IS BRITT LONDON, VICE PRESIDENT OF PLEA, THE PHOENIX LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY.
TED SIMONS: STAFFING LEVELS AT A CRISIS LEVEL, WHAT IS THIS ALL ABOUT?
BRITT LONDON: WE BELIEVE WE DON'T HAVE ENOUGH POLICE OFFICERS TO ADEQUATELY ENSURE THE SAFETY OF PHOENIX.
TED SIMONS: WHEN YOU SAY CRISIS LEVEL, GIVE ME A DEFINITION OF WHAT THAT MEANS.
BRITT LONDON: WE DON'T HAVE ENOUGH PATROL OFFICERS TO RESPOND TO CALLS FOR SERVICE, SPECIFICALLY EMERGENCY CALLS FOR SERVICE, IN AN ADEQUATE ENOUGH TIME TO ENSURE THAT THE CITIZENS CALLING FOR THAT HELP ARE GOING TO BE SAFE.
TED SIMONS: I KNOW THERE HAS BEEN A RECENT HIRING PUSH. IS THAT HELPING MATTERS?
BRITT LONDON: OF COURSE ANY ADDITION WE CAN HAVE DO DEPARTMENT IS HELPING BUT IT DOESN'T SEEM LIKE IT IS ENOUGH OFFICERS ESPECIALLY TO EQUAL OUT TO ATTRITION THAT WE HAVE, IT'S NOT EVEN MAKING A DENT.
TED SIMONS: SO THE ATTRITION IS THE BIG PART. RETIREMENT AND ATTRITION.
BRITT LONDON: YES, YES.
TED SIMONS: COMPARE THE NUMBERS OF RECRUITS AND DON'T HAVE TO GIVE ME HARD FAST NUMBERS BUT A GENERAL IDEA OF RECRUITS VERSUS RETIREMENT.
BRITT LONDON: RIGHT NOW WE HAVE MAYBE 20 RECRUITS, SOMETIMES LESS, TO A CLASS. THOSE CLASSES GRADUATE ONE EVERY MONTH OR TWO BUT WE GENERALLY HAVE ABOUT A HUNDRED PEOPLE RETIRE A YEAR.
TED SIMONS: AND MAYBE 200 HIRE, 50 RETIRE YOU ARE SAYING ABOUT A 100 RETIRE A YEAR?
BRITT LONDON: THAT MANY…ON AVERAGE.
TED SIMONS: HOW DOES IT AFFECT THE DAILY OPERATION OF POLICE WORK?
BRITT LONDON: AGAIN, WE DON'T HAVE ENOUGH PATROL OFFICERS, FIRST RESPONDERS ON THE BACK END. ON THE INVESTIGATIVE END, YOU DON'T HAVE ENOUGH DETECTIVES TO INVESTIGATE YOUR CRIME AND BRING RESOLUTION, BRING JUSTICE, TO YOU.
TED SIMONS: AS FAR AS RESPONSE TIME, WHAT ARE WE SEEING?
BRITT LONDON: RESPONSE TIME HAS GONE UP. IN THE MID TO LATE 90s RESPONSE TIME WAS AROUND FIVE MINUTES. I THINK THE MEANTIME NOW IS ABOUT SEVEN MINUTES. THAT DOESN'T MEAN JUST TWO MINUTES. SOMETIMES IT TAKES 15 OR MORE MINUTES TO GET TO THE CALL. THE SEVEN MINUTE MARK IS JUST THE MEAN.
TED SIMONS: ARE WE TALKING ALL PRIORITY LEVEL?
BRITT LONDON: NO THAT IS JUST FOR PRIORITY ONE CALLS. YOU HAVE PRIORITY TWO AND THREE. SOMETIMES PRIORITY THREE CALLS CAN HOLD HOURS OR DAYS.
TED SIMONS: I KNOW THE PHOENIX DEPARTMENT HAS BEEN SENDING DETECTIVES AND SERGEANTS BACK TO THE STREET. REASSIGNMENT. IS THAT HELPING?
BRITT LONDON: I DON'T THINK IT HAS HELPED ONE BIT.
TED SIMONS: WHY NOT?
BRITT LONDON: IT IS NOT ENOUGH. IT IS NOT ENOUGH HELP FOR THE FIRST RESPONDERS. I LIKE TO GIVE THE ANALOGY OUR CHIEF IS TRYING HER BEST BUT SHE WAS GIVEN A SHOE BOX WITH FIVE MARBLES. SHE IS TOLD TO SHAKE THE BOX AND PRODUCE SEVEN MARABLES AND THAT IS IMPOSSIBLE.
TED SIMONS: IS MORAL OFFERING BECAUSE OF THIS?
BRITT LONDON: MORALE IS DEFINITELY SUFFERING. SOME OF THESE DETECTIVES ARE EXPERTS IN THEIR FIELD, THEY DO VERY WELL AND THEY ARE MADE TO GET UP FROM EVERYTHING THEY DO, THESE INVESTIGATIONS THEY REALLY TAKE TO HEART AND WORK THE INVESTIGATION AS HARD AS THEY CAN, AND THEN GO BACK TO THE STREET AT A PATROL CAPACITY BUT THEY WILLINGLY DO IT. BUT IT IS JUST ANOTHER INSTANCE WHERE THE CITIZENS OF PHOENIX ARE NOT GETTING THE SERVICE THEY DESERVE.
TED SIMONS: WHAT ABOUT OVERTIME? IS OVERTIME EXPANDING?
BRITT LONDON: NO, THAT WAS DEFINITELY CUT OUT. IF WE COULD GET OVERTIME EXPENDITURE WE COULD GET MORE ON THE STREETS BUT THAT WAS STOPPED.
TED SIMONS: I HEARD THAT WAS A PROBLEM AND BURNING OUT SOME OF THESE FOLKS.
BRITT LONDON: I DON'T KNOW ABOUT THAT. BUT THERE WERE A LOT OF OFFICERS WORKING OVERTIME BECAUSE WE HAD TO KEEP THE STAFFING LEVELS UP.
TED SIMONS: BUT YOU HAVE SAYING THAT IS NOT THE NORM OR THE RULE?
BRITT LONDON: NO.
TED SIMONS: THE CHIEF SAID THE GOAL IS MAINTAIN THE EXPECTED LEVEL OF SERVICE AND IMPROVE RESPONSE TIMES. ARE THOSE GOALS BEING MET?
BRITT LONDON: NO, I DON'T THINK SO. THE CITY MANAGER WANTS TO GET THE STAFFING LEVEL UP TO 3,125 OFFICERS. RIGHT NOW WE ARE AT 2,720 I BELIEVE. WHEN ASKED WHAT WAS THE MAGIC NUMBER OF 3125 CAME FROM AND HE SAID IT IS WHAT WE CAN AFFORD. THAT IS NOT HOW IT SHOULD BE LOOKED AT. YOU SHOULD SEE THE NEEDS OF THE CITIZEN S HIRE AS NEEDED. AT THIS CURRENT TIME, THERE CAN……WE HAVE A MAYOR AND PART OF THEIR DUTY IS TO ENSURE THE SAFETY OF THE CITIZENS OF PHOENIX.
TED SIMONS: DO YOU THINK THINGS INCLUDING PARKS, PROVIDING SWIMMING POOLS, THESE SORTS OF THINGS ARE BACKED?
BRITT LONDON: I DON'T KNOW IF THEY SHOULD BE CUT BACK. BUT I AM SURE THAT THE CITY AS LARGE AS PHOENIX, WE ARE A BIG DEAL, I AM SURE THEY COULD FIND WAYS TO GIVE THE CITIZENS EVERYTHING THEY NEED WITHOUT TAKING FROM ANOTHER DEPARTMENT.
TED SIMONS: YOU TALK ABOUT BRINGING BACK TO 2% FOOD SALES TAX?
BRITT LONDON: YOU KNOW, TED, I DON'T KNOW. I DON'T KNOW IF THAT IS WHAT THEY WOULD CHOOSE. I DO KNOW THAT MOST MAJOR CITIES HAVE A DEDICATED SAFETY TAX THAT IS USED IN MANY DIFFERENT WAYS. THAT MAY BE ONE IDEA.
TED SIMONS: SO, WHAT I AM HEARING IS INCREASE THE MONEY. BUT NOT MANY SUGGESTIONS ON HOW TO INCREASE THE MONEY. THE CITY MANAGER SAID FIND ME THE MONEY. FIND ME A WAY TO DO THIS. HE IS SAYING WITH IT BEING THE LARGEST SHARE OF THE BUDGET, YOU NEED $14 MILLION A YEAR JUST FOR A HUNDRED OFFICERS. IT SOUNDS LIKE HE IS SAYING SOMETHING ELSE WAS GOING TO HAVE TO GO. BUT YOU ARE NOT WILLING TO SAY WHAT. IS IT EITHER OR SITUATION?
BRITT LONDON: I THINK THE CITY COUNCIL SHOULD GET TOGETHER AND DO WHAT THEY ARE ELECTED TO DO AND FIND A WAY TO DO THIS. WE DON'T NEED TO BUILD MORE SPORTS ARENAS DOWNTOWN; DO WE? I DON'T KNOW. HOW DO THE CITIZENS FEEL? THERE ARE PROPERTIES THAT OWN DOWNTOWN THAT NEED TO BE SOLD. I THINK THEY HAVE BEEN TRYING TO BE SOLD FOR A WHILE. THERE ARE OTHER THINGS THAT CAN BE LOOKED AT BESIDES TAKING FROM THE CITIZENS AND FIXING THE PROBLEM ON THE BACKS OF THE EMPLOYEES.
TED SIMONS: LAST QUESTION. WHO IS TO BLAME FOR THIS? HOW DID WE GET HERE?
BRITT LONDON: WE GOT HERE BECAUSE THE CITY COUNCIL DECIDED NOT TO HIRE ANY POLICE OFFICERS BETWEEN 2008-2015. WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO KNOW IS IN THOSE SIX PLUS YEARS THEY DIDN'T HIRE FOR ATTRITION. WHEREAS, THE CITY OF GLENDALE HAD A HIRING FREEZE BUT HIRED FOR ATTRITION AND THEY ARE NOT FACING A STAFFING LEVEL CRISIS.
TED SIMONS: SO THAT HIRING FREEZE IS STILL HOVERING OVER THE ENTIRE OPERATION. ALL RIGHT. INTERESTING. GOOD TO HAVE YOU HERE. AND COMING UP NEXT ON ARIZONA "HORIZON," HOW DO YOU EXPLORE AN ASTEROID THAT IS 280 MILLIONS FROM THE SUN? YOU START WITH A BASKETBALL SIZE 3D MODEL MADE AT ASU.

Britt London: Vice President, Phoenix Law Enforcement Assoc.

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