Phoenix PD working to keep community action officers amid staffing shortages
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - The Phoenix Police Department is down more than 400 officers. Specialty officers have even been moved to the streets to patrol. Amid these changes, police chief Jeri Williams is prioritizing positions that work directly with the community daily.
Community action officers act as a liaison between the community and the police department. Unfortunately, because of low staffing, these positions were going to be cut in half. But Williams insisted these officers remain a priority in each precinct.
Mario Lozoya has been a police officer for 17 years. He has been a community action officer for eight years now. “We can really narrow down information to them (the community), with it being factual and them have that personal one-on-one effect,” Lozoya said.
Lozoya says he gets around 20 calls a day from neighborhood leaders ranging from suspicious sounds, abandoned cars, and even possible drug activity. “We do get some things where people just don’t feel comfortable, saying “I don’t know if this is enough to put a 911 call in,’” Lozoya said.
The department’s CAOs work directly with residents and neighborhood leaders, using social media to communicate.
Right now, there are six officers assigned to each precinct. Due to staffing shortages, the department was going to cut it to three. Williams, however, realized the importance of these roles. Though she couldn’t keep their original number because of staffing, she was able to add back one more spot. Now every precinct will have four CAOs. Because it’s smaller in size, the Central City precinct will have two.
Phoenix councilman Sal DiCiccio says these positions add to the number of eyes on the ground. “They are critical in the city of Phoenix. They are so involved with neighborhoods. They’re able to prevent crime that’s happening in the city of Phoenix,” DiCiccio said.
“The more comfortable we can make our community feel interacting with us, the better off we are as a police department,” Lozoya said.
To get ahold of the community action officer in your area, you can call the precinct’s main phone number. If you are unsure which precinct you fall under, click here.
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