A controversial efficiency study conducted on the Phoenix Police Department could lead to some changes in the way the department is run but local officials say firing officers is not likely.
The report was done by Berkshire Advisors Inc. It outlined the things the department was doing well, as well as some things to improve. The report says, "In total recommendations presented in this report will enable the department to reallocate up to 714 positions."
Some, like Libertarian mayor candidate Thane Eichenauer, have taken that statement to mean 714 officers are not needed. City Councilman Sal DiCiccio says to interpret the sentence like that is a mistake.
"The report says reallocation," DiCiccio said. "It's being completely misconstrued by almost everybody. An efficiency study is exactly that. It only looks at objective standards. It doesn't take into account the subjective objectives that you want to get back."
If changes are made to the number of patrol officers, Cmdr. Chris Crockett of the South Mountain Precinct says he hopes the city would ask for advice from the department before making any cuts.
"Some of the recommendations the task force made I know the city manager will consider them and do some of those things, but some of those things will not work for a department our size," Crockett said. "If there are any changes to the police department, specifically man power, I don't know how those changes would be in Ahwatukee. Hopefully the city would get some input from the police department before we change any man power in any precinct, especially a portion of a precinct like Ahwatukee."
Ahwatukee has six officers on patrol at a time, with occasional overlap during shift changes when officers take time to fill out their daily reports.
Right now many officers are working four 10-hour shifts a week, rather than five eight-hour shifts. The report states that the department could be more efficient if more employees worked five eight-hour shifts. DiCiccio believes there's no reason for high ranking officers to have a four-10 schedule.
"We went to four-10 for police officers and patrol because it was meant to encourage police officers to do patrol and the second thing was to keep police officers out there more to get to know the community and individuals and neighborhoods," DiCiccio said. "That is a good thing. What the problem was was then everybody started doing it. It became more of people wanting to make sure they had a long weekend off."
The report applauded the department's work with local hotels to identify those with outstanding warrants, their relationship with the fire department, special driving under the influence task force, their dedicated commanders and its stringent "false alarm" ordinance among other things.
The report suggests improvement in staffing levels, work schedules, supervisory roles and the possibility of using more volunteers or private bids for some services.
"Any organization needs to look at its structure on a regular basis," DiCiccio said. "The city hadn't done this in years. I saw the report as some good and some bad. The subjective part of it is where the politicians and the public get together and decide what things they want done."
A committee of officers and city officials will meet to discuss the good and bad of the report on May 24 during a Public Safety and Veterans Subcommittee meeting.
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