PHOENIX - Phoenix Police officials have tried multiple strategies to lure in more candidates to replace retiring officers, but the trend line shows the existing strategies are not working.
During the previous fiscal year alone, 200 officers left, and only 97 were hired. Since July 2021, 47 have left, and just nine have been hired. In addition, the Phoenix Police Department has faced multiple controversies, from challenge coins to bogus gang charges and an ongoing Department of Justice investigation.
"We have such a toxic environment politically in Phoenix we cannot fulfill our hiring numbers," said Dr. Jeff Hynes with Glendale Community College's Public Safety Science Department.
As a result, recruiters are heading out of state for the first time in years, travelling more than 2,000 miles to hold career fairs in Columbus and Cleveland, in Ohio.
"We're finding that [the] Midwest region is one of the top producers of hits on our website, so we felt it was important, and not only when you go to Ohio are you recruiting for Cleveland, Columbus, but you have cities that are within three-hour drives," said Cmdr. Charlie Consolian.
Academic: Phoenix Police has no choice on recruitment
Dr. Hynes, who is a former Phoenix Police officer, said the local climate has made it near impossible to hire, so out of state is the only option.
"This is a 'Hail Mary' pass," said Dr. Hynes. "That's exactly what it is. They're going out and recruiting out-of-state, where we have our city to put forward, as far as our weather, the environment. place to raise your kids.
Phoenix Police officials, however, said it is not a 'Hail Mary,' but they did say the last two years have made hiring challenging.
"I think in general, when you say in March of 2020, COVID and then George Floyd and social injustice, so every time there’s a negative story, it’s taken its toll, but the one thing I could tell: a lot of people talk about wanting to make change. This is a great profession to make that change. We want you to be part of the solution," said Cmdr. Consolian.
Phoenix Police officials have also targeted other regions the department wants to recruit from, but are waiting to see what comes out of Ohio first.
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