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How Phoenix police addressing response times, patrol officer shortage

By Christina Estes
Published: Monday, November 14, 2022 - 9:28am

Phoenix police
Christina Estes/KJZZ
A Phoenix Police Department SUV.

The Phoenix Police Department is trying to increase the number of officers and decrease response times.

Depending on the precinct, the average response time for priority one calls — like a violent crime in progress or a just-stolen car — is six to eight minutes. For priority 2 calls — like a burglary not in progress or a verbal fight that could become physical — the average ranges from 20 to 40 minutes.

“It’s not always that we don’t have enough officers. Sometimes we just don’t have enough officers in the right spot,” said Assistant Chief Derek Elmore.

That’s why the department recently started using day shift watch commanders whose job is to monitor calls citywide. Elmore recently told a City Council subcommittee the commander’s job is to move officers to busier areas for 30 minutes to two hours at a time, when feasible.

“This is only a stop gap,” he said.

Since boosting pay and improving recruitment efforts, Phoenix has seen more applicants, but the department is still short about 500 sworn officers. Next month, Assistant Chief Bryan Chapman said they’ll start using an expanded pre-screening questionnaire in place of a written test.

“By way of numbers, we would have had the ability this year to bring in additional 500 people who didn’t pass our written test but may have passed this main filter questionnaire and could make good peace officers but because they haven’t passed the written test it’s disqualified them.” he said.

The department is also working to make the hiring process almost completely remote to reach more people across the country. In September, Chapman told the subcommittee physical fitness assessment could be uploaded to YouTube and psychological evaluations could be conducted by department selected doctors. He said, “So, we are very efficient in valuing people’s time and making sure they only have to have one trip here to finalize that process.”

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