DPS facing historically low trooper shortage

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The Department of Public Safety (DPS) is facing a historically low vacancy rate in Arizona.

DPS is reportedly down approximately 500 troopers, which is becoming a public safety concern. This is particularly evident in the metro Phoenix area.

Jeff Hawkins, President of the Arizona State Troopers Association, is pushing for a 12% to 17% raise for DPS troopers. Hawkins believes low pay is deterring new troopers from joining and a pay raise would solve the DPS’s high turnover and vacancy void. Hawkins joined us to discuss this issue.

According to Hawkins, DPS is facing around 500 vacancies when it comes to sworn officers and 39 vacancies in dispatcher positions.

“We like to make the argument that there’s a lot of things that are out there that can be drawn back to pay for the things that constitutionally are required to do, one of them state law enforcement,” Hawkins said.

Hawkins offered the scenarios of a witness being aware of a “wrong-way driver” or seeing an “impaired driver” where they would have to contact a trooper who may be at home to come to the scene due to the lack of troopers on the road.

There are currently two detectives covering three counties in northeastern Arizona which should be covered by nine detectives, said Hawkins.

Hawkins’ message to lawmakers:

  • We had 313 troopers leave for better opportunities over the last three years.
  • It takes $200,000 to train a trooper which is equivalent to about $62.5 million to replace them.
  • We would like more funding for competitive wages, a benefits package, and to have a recruitment budget.

Jeff Hawkins, President of the Arizona State Troopers Association

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