Valley Interfaith Project

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton speaks during the Valley Interfaith Project spring assembly at Paradise Valley Unite Methodist Church on Thursday, May 2, 2013.

[David Jolkovski/AFN]

Just months ago, Phoenix faced the prospect of laying off 99 police officers from the beat, but through smart and sound fiscal management we saved hundreds of millions of dollars and, as a result, were able to hire 11 full-time officers instead.

It was only possible because of a common-sense approach that demands that we do more with less, and a steadfast commitment to never put the safety and security of our city’s families and communities in jeopardy.

Here’s how we did it.

Through the city’s Innovation and Efficiency Task Force, we put an emphasis on cutting waste — including combining city departments — and have saved taxpayers $63 million to date. We’re confident that in two more years, we’ll save a total of $100 million.

City voters passed a bipartisan effort to reform the pension system that will save an estimated $600 million over the next 25 years.

And by working with our city employees, we saved $200 million in employee costs to avoid a lay off a single city employee.

These common-sense savings allowed the City Council to pass a fiscally responsible budget so that we could hire — not fire — police officers. They’ll be on the front lines, protecting our neighborhoods and making sure our kids and grandchildren get to school safely.

Each of these full-time officers first served as a reserve officer. Collectively, these newly-sworn officers have already saved the city $1.7 million by providing a combined total of nearly 30,000 hours of police services on a volunteer basis — a total of more than three years time spent keeping our residents safe.

More importantly, these officers are highly skilled and well-trained. That’s because Phoenix reservists work as detectives, motorcycle and transit officers, training and homeland security officers, helicopter pilots, and members of special assignment units.

I am thankful to these officers, the police department, and all of our city employees for making the tough sacrifices necessary to get us through tough economic times so that we continue to have the resources we need to keep our neighborhoods safe and sound.

• Greg Stanton was elected mayor of Phoenix in 2011.

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