PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - The Phoenix Police Department is making changes to how they patrol the streets following a couple of violent incidents against law enforcement. The department will have two officers patrolling together at all times.
"I stand with Chief Williams on this decision, to ensure our brave officers have proper back-up," said Councilman Michael Nowakowski, who represents District 7.
The officer wasn't seriously hurt.
The change came "in response to recent attacks on law enforcement officers," said Sgt. Mercedes Fortune with the Phoenix Police Department. "Just to make sure our officers have that extra set of eyes."
Phoenix has seen two attacks on law enforcement during the past two days. Somebody opened fire during a drive-by outside the Sandra Day O'Connor U.S. Courthouse around 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, hitting a court security officer. A few hours later, officers said the suspected shooter was caught. The victim suffered injuries that aren't life-threatening. On Monday morning, investigators said a driver tried to intentionally run a motorcycle officer off the road near Seventh Street and Southern Avenue. On the national level, two deputies in Los Angeles were ambushed while sitting in their vehicle on Saturday. Both were critically hurt. Tensions between law enforcement have increased since the protests started over the death of George Floyd in May.
Authorities are asking for the public's help in finding the gunman who ambushed and shot two Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies as they sat in their car.
Phoenix police Chief Jeri Williams is now asking all her officers to ride in pairs when out on patrol, or responding to a call. "It is an extra step we're taking," said Fortune. "But this is nothing new for us."
Jeff Hynes is a professor at Glendale Community College and former commander with the Phoenix Police Department. He applauds Chief Williams' decision to double up officers to help keep them safe, but said it does have some drawbacks, like fewer visible patrol cars out and about, and slower response times when emergency calls come in. "From a staffing standpoint, it is a very brave decision to do it because you're eliminating a significant part of your patrol force to respond to calls," said Hynes. "They''ll still get there, it's just going to affect response times."
"It's something that has to happen right now when you have officers being shot at," said Hynes. "You have the fabric of our society at risk and officers not safe on the street."
Arizona's Family asked the Phoenix Police Department how much of a delay in response time they expect to have by doubling up officers. Fortune said it will vary from precinct to precinct, and they will monitor whether it puts citizens at risk. "We want to make sure the community understands we're here for their safety and we're going to respond to every single emergency call, like we usually do," said Fortune.