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Phoenix police considering different options to get more officers out on the street

Posted at 9:34 PM, Nov 21, 2016

Changes could be coming soon to the Phoenix Police Department. New Chief Jeri Williams has started to take steps to improve public safety.

Officers in the department just received a letter informing them of a new team she has assembled that will look for a more effective way to move officers around as the department continues to deal with a labor shortage.

The department has made strong recruitment efforts, with 130 new recruits currently enrolled at the police academy. But the reality is the vast majority of hopefuls don't make it to that point.

In the most recent test, only 421 out of 5,500 passed the latest written portion. Also factoring in that officers retire, it's been hard for the department to keep up.

As of May, the department was facing a shortage of roughly 600 officers from what would be considered a fully-staffed department. Since then the gap has narrowed somewhat as the force sits 413 officers below its full-staff level of 3,269 officers.

Until enrollment increases, the department is looking at other ways to get more officers out on the street. The team assembled by Chief Williams will take a look at the big picture.

“For some time, the department has been working overtime and using specialty [squads] to patrol, but that’s not a long-term solution," said Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams. "The goal is to provide quality service with the people we currently have.” 

Sources tell ABC15 an estimated 200 detectives could be reassigned to patrol. The specifics of which detectives from which squads and departments is still unclear as of right now, sources say.

The department is forced to possibly take such drastic action because of the hiring freeze imposed by the city six years ago that was only lifted in 2015.

There is no official word on when any changes will be made.