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Why Phoenix police are hiring more civilians to help officers

The agency has already gotten over 400 applications for 33 civilian positions created this month to help the city's sworn officers.

PHOENIX — As the Phoenix Police Department continues to grapple with a need for more officers, the agency's begun to recruit more civilians to help ease some of the workloads for investigators.

A staffing shortage of about 400 officers has already forced the department to reassign detectives back to patrol and ramp up the city's recruiting efforts. 

But now Phoenix is hoping civilians can step up and complete some of the duties that overburden sworn officers.

Earlier this month, the Phoenix City Council approved creating 33 new civilian positions that will perform some of the tasks currently done by sworn personnel. 

"Due to current and future sworn-staffing challenges, it is critical for the Department to identify job functions that are currently being performed by sworn personnel, that can be completed by civilians," city records state.

Assistant Police Chief Michael Kurtenbach said the 25 civilian investigators could help impound evidence and manage paperwork as the sworn officers go out into the field and handle a crime scene. These people would not be sworn in and would not be authorized to make arrests.

The Department is looking for candidates with backgrounds in investigations like former law enforcement, loss prevention, or fraud.

Phoenix police said these people would not be taking over cases, but helping with the busier behind the scenes work like paperwork, background checks or interviews. They typically wouldn’t respond to active crime scenes and if they do go in the field, they’ll be accompanied by an officer.

Most of the civilian investigators will be assigned to work property crimes and family investigations.

The council additionally approved creating eight new police assistants who will work in the patrol division. 

Mesa police said it has had civilians helping with investigations since 2009 as Civilian Investigation Specialists. A department spokesperson said they currently have eight CIS Officers, two each in each of their four districts. They are supervised by the detective sergeant in each district.

Not long after the city authorized hiring more civilians, Phoenix received a flood of applications for the new jobs.

As of Thursday, Phoenix police said the agency has already gotten over 400 applications for the civilian investigator position.

"Not only is there tremendous interest in working for the Phoenix police department, but it's going to afford us the opportunity to get very high-quality applicants," Kurtenbach said Wednesday. 

Phoenix police are continuing to look for other ways to add civilians to its workforce, Kurtenbach added, and offer new opportunities for younger workers. 

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