Phoenix Police unveils crime reduction plan: ‘This is a strategic vision'

The Phoenix Police Department has unveiled a plan to cut crime in the city.

Over the past five years, homicides in Phoenix have increased by 39%, and aggravated assault crimes are up 14%.

Other violent crimes, like rape and robbery, are down.

The department has struggled with staffing shortages, changes in leadership, and is still under investigation by the Department of Justice for discrimination and its use of force policies.

Phoenix Police's new crime reduction plan lays out their strategy to focus on the most violent offenders and crime hot spots.

Newly-sworn Interim Phoenix Police Chief Michael Sullivan says things are looking better as far as staffing.

"We're over 500 officers down, but we're in a much different place than we were last year," Sullivan said. "Last year, we were shrinking very quickly. We've stabilized. We have over 100 recruits in the academy today, so that's a very different place."

Sgt. Phil Krynsky says the department has 2,559 sworn personnel and the city council has approved it for 3,125. However, they are seeing an increase in recruits, and more officers are staying on the force.

Sullivan says the goal is to reduce violent crime by 5%, and property crimes by 8%.

‘This is a strategic vision'

So far this year, Phoenix Police have been involved in 16 officer-involved shootings. City-wide, violent crimes are up. Shootings and murders have been increasing.

In years past, the department has launched several "crackdowns," but Sullivan says this plan is different.

"This isn't an operation, this is strategic vision. This is a focus our commanders are going to have. It talks about responsibilities from the patrol officers all the way up to the executive ranks," he said.

The plan focuses on the most violent and repeat offenders, and putting more resources toward crime hotspots.

Red areas on the above map show most reported crimes against people are happening in downtown Phoenix, and areas along the I-17 and I-10 highways.

The plan also targets prohibited possessors – those with previous convictions who can’t legally own a gun.

"What we see way too often is there were opportunities because of misconduct and weapons charges in their past. We have to take those crimes seriously because it's a great predictor of future violent crime," Sullivan said.

Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell says, "You have to have a police officer to take the ball up to the goal line, but you have to have a prosecutor to take the ball into the end zone and get the conviction."

Mitchell's office has hired dozens of prosecutors in the last year and is focusing on keeping repeat offenders and prohibited possessors behind bars.

"We've gone from a deficit of 70 prosecutors, 1/5 of prosecutorial staff, and we are now in the single digits," she said.