Facing massive officer shortage, Ariz. agencies looking to hire hundreds

Sheriff Paul Penzone said every agency is "depleted of resources"

By Police1 Staff

PHOENIX — Citing “trying times” and public perceptions, agencies in Arizona are seeking to hire hundreds of officers and state troopers. 

The Maricopa County Sheriffs Office, Arizona Department of Public Safety and the Phoenix Police Department are reaching out to their communities, military bases and other states to fill more than 800 vacancies, ABC15 reported.

Col. Frank Milstead said hiring freezes and budget cuts have added to the shortage. Officers were hired in large numbers in the 80s, but they’re now retiring, leaving vacancies that are hard to fill. 

“We are facing trying times, we are depleted of resources,” Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone said. “Right now it's been harder for us to recruit. In a sense, because there's been a lot of negativity around law enforcement.”

Penzone said changes in public perceptions of law enforcement have altered the way agencies recruit. Newly-hired officers will be trained more in community policing in order to strengthen trust in their communities, according to the news station. 

The Phoenix Police Department said they’re hoping to fill 400 spots by next year, while the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office said they have 277 vacancies for corrections officers and 89 open positions for officers and deputies. Milstead told ABC15 that the Arizona Department of Public Safety has “somewhere around 165 to 185 open trooper positions, and about the same number of professional staff we're hiring.”

The extreme shortage has led to the restructuring of agencies. Phoenix police have pulled officers from “specialty” assignments and assigned them to patrol. 

Recruiters said they are willing to pay for applicants’ higher education and training, and there’s no age cut off. Recruits need to pass the physical fitness test.

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