PHOENIX — The Phoenix Police Department is considering not sending officers to respond to certain types of calls.
Police Chief Jeri Williams told the City Council's Public Safety Committee earlier this month that the department is looking for ways to maintain service levels while dealing with hundreds of vacant positions.
The department commissioned a study from Arizona State University to see what types of calls could be given to other city departments or civilian employees.
In a presentation to the committee, Williams said there were 11 areas that the study identified:
- Intrusion alarms
- Helping the fire department with unruly patients
- Drug overdoses
- Civil matter standby (like being there when someone’s evicted or when divorced parents hand off their kids)
- Abandoned cars
- Found property
- Minor fender benders
- Illegal parking
- Noise complaints
- Loose animals
- People smoking marijuana in public.
The department is currently down 370 officer positions and, despite advertising and offering hiring incentives, hasn't been able to fill them. Williams told the committee that reducing the number of calls would enable officers to focus on more serious crimes.
But Williams said she's not on board with all the recommendations. Some, she said, could potentially be a public safety risk, like alarms and civil matters.
“This is just an initial list," she said. "So this is a starting point to advise you all, to advise members of our public, to advise our employees what we're looking at."
Williams said the plan could reduce the number of calls by 80,000-90,000.
There’s also a plan to have officers come in after-hours and use overtime to handle things like phone calls and paperwork.
None of these recommendations are final. The Phoenix Police Department said they’re still looking at everything.
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