PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — One of the fastest-growing cities in the country is dealing with a police officer shortage. According to Phoenix Police data, 200 officers left the department during the 2020-21 fiscal year. The department has about 3,000 officers right now. "It is a horrific job that wears them out. It is hard on the families. It is hard on them and now under all those pressures, we are seeing them bail out at numbers we haven't seen before," said Jeffeory Hynes, a retired Phoenix Police commander who was on the force for 32 years.
Hynes is now a professor in the Justice Studies Department at Glendale Community College. He said heightened scrutiny of police is driving many officers away. "Making it a very hostile environment for officers to work in and for them to want to stay around," said Hynes.
Meanwhile, Phoenix Police is at the center of controversy. The U.S. Justice Department is currently investigating its police practices and use of force. While hundreds leave the department, data shows it is having a hard time filling positions. For the 20-21 fiscal year, recruitment was down by more than 30%.
Advocates hope the investigation findings will lead to more compassion.
"Right now, we are retiring more police officers than we are taking in and that is creating a problem," said Phoenix City Councilman Sal Diciccio. The Phoenix Police department is offering a $7,500 bonus for new recruits and officers if hired from another department.