‘Quasi-police’: More than 600 apply for Phoenix PD civilian jobs

Police say “civilian investigators” and “police assistants” will help alleviate an officer shortage


By Suzie Ziegler 

PHOENIX — The Phoenix Police Department has had early success with a new effort to address its staffing shortage. According to AZCentral, more than 600 people have applied for non-sworn roles since the department announced a new “civilian investigator” position earlier this month. 

Civilian investigators cannot carry guns or make arrests, but they will act as a sort of detective’s assistant, helping at crime scenes, with impounding, research and other behind-the-scenes work, according to the report.  

“The goal is for those who fill these positions is to do administrative tasks, follow up on leads and interview witnesses, among other things,” Phoenix PD said in an earlier press release

The Phoenix Police Department is down 400 officers from its authorized cap, so the non-sworn roles are meant to alleviate the workload, according to the report. In early March, the Phoenix city council approved an additional 33 non-sworn positions to assist with police work. Eight of those openings were for a pre-existing “police assistant” role, but the 25 “civilian investigator” openings were brand new. 

Police assistants are a kind of “quasi-police,” said Michael Kurtenbach, Phoenix Police Executive Asst. Chief. They will be allowed to patrol in a marked vehicle and respond to calls that don’t require a sworn officer, such as non-injury car crashes, parking issues and lost or found property, the report said.  

"As we continue to lose sworn members of the department, it's incumbent upon us to evolve as an agency and evolve as a profession," said Kurtenbach. "There are certain things that it doesn't make sense for a uniform sworn officer to do and there are other things that we can't continue to do as we have to focus on greater priorities." 

A total of 649 people applied for the civilian investigator position and 191 applied for the police assistant role, Kurtenbach said. According to the AZCentral, 120 detectives and detail officers are expected to be reassigned to patrol once the non-sworn positions are filled.

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