Are there enough police officers and firefighters in Phoenix?

Posted: Updated:
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

Are there enough police officers and firefighters to respond to your calls for help in the city of Phoenix? 

Those who represent both agencies say "no."

They're pleading their cases to city leaders in a series of budget hearings this month.

The City of Phoenix is reporting a surplus of more than two million dollars in this year’s budget. Phoenix fire and police argue that money needs to be spent on more boots on the ground to respond to your emergencies.

"We've gotten so dangerously understaffed on police manpower," said Ken Crane, president of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association.

Crane is a police officer with nearly three decades of experience. He says the Phoenix Police Department is below the national average of 4,200 sworn officers needed to police a city the size of Phoenix, operating at just over 3,000.

"There are a lot of times, you might wait 10, 12, 15 minutes in an emergency to see a police officer," said Crane.

[RELATED: Phoenix sees drop in qualified candidates for firefighter jobs]

That's a big delay compared with their preferred response time of five minutes. Low priority calls, like burglaries, take much longer.

"You called at noon? Eight at night somebody finally knocks on your door to take your report," said Crane.

It's the same story for the Phoenix Fire Department.

"We believe we're woefully understaffed," said Bryan Willingham, executive vice president of Local 493 Phoenix Firefighters Union.

Willingham is also a fire captain with 26-years experience.

"When you don't have enough firefighters and you don't have enough units in service or available, it's a delay for you and your family for them to get the assistance they need," said Willingham.

According to Willingham, the department responded to 145,000 calls in 2010. That number jumped last year to 190,000 calls.

He argues the department needs an additional five fire trucks and 140 new sworn firefighters to meet the demand.

"We haven't added any additional full-time apparatus or trucks in our system. We've opened a couple of new stations in that time frame, but we've utilized existing trucks, taken them from existing stations and put them elsewhere," said Willingham.

"We hit a dangerous tipping point, and when you start having to rob Peter to pay Paul and put people from here out to here, that’s an organization in crisis," said Crane.

There are a number of additional community hearings each week. You can find a list at https://www.phoenix.gov/calendar/budget.

The final spending for the city budget is expected to be released next month.

Click/tap here to download the free azfamily mobile app.

Copyright 2018 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.