PHOENIX - Robocalls, warning about your safety, have started popping up around Phoenix, and they're coming from the police union.
It's budget time for the City of Phoenix, and with nearly four billion dollars on the docket, the police union says they want to see their fair share.
The Phoenix Law Enforcement Association said it sent robocalls to about 30,000 households over the span of four days. The calls warned of severe under-staffing affecting response times. It urged people to call their city councilperson and ask for increased staffing.
"The Phoenix Police Department is dangerously understaffed, with hundreds of fewer officers than in 2008," said the voice on the call. "Response times for 911 calls can often take seven minutes or more."
"A lot of citizens just don't know, they haven't been told how bad the staffing is," said Ken Crane, President of PLEA. "If the citizens' voice is loud enough the mayor and council will listen."
At the moment, Phoenix has about 2,850 officers. The city set a goal of 3,125 by this summer.
That's still not enough, according to PLEA officials.
"[That's] about 263 fewer than we had at the start of the economic downturn in 2008," said Crane.
PLEA's goal is to have Phoenix hire an additional 1,000 officers. That would bring Phoenix close to the police/citizen ratio average of the top 10 largest cities.
ABC15 reached out to half of the city council members Monday night. As of this publication, Sal DiCiccio's office is the only one to respond. His spokesperson said DiCiccio supports money for hiring more officers, although admits the 1,000 officers PLEA wants is probably not realistic. He said right now; cops get about 17 percent of the city's $3.9 billion budget.
A police spokesperson said the department itself does not consider itself in a staffing crisis. However, they are aggressively recruiting and hiring new officers.