- Associated Press - Monday, December 5, 2016

PHOENIX (AP) - In a move to improve first-responder efforts, Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams announced Monday that she’s reallocating about 169 officers to patrol duty.

Williams announced the move a few hours after Phoenix Law Enforcement Association President Ken Crane said the city’s police department has a manpower and staffing crisis.

“Staffing is decimated, overtime costs are skyrocketing, employees across the department are overworked and experiencing burnout, which creates a domino effect leading to a drastic decrease in the morale of the organization,” Crane said at a news conference.

Five months into the fiscal year, Crane said the police department has already spent almost $10 million out of its allotted annual overtime budget of $11 million. He called on residents to demand city leaders find funds necessary to end the crisis.

Crane said police manpower was at its peak in 2008 with 3,388 sworn officers before a six-year hiring freeze took place.

“Our current level of sworn personnel is 2,722,” Crane said. “The reality is we need to get back to at least the original 3,388 to adequately staff the two new precincts paid for by the taxpayer via a bond election several years ago.”

Williams, Phoenix’s first female police chief who has been on the job about five weeks now, said in a statement that the reallocation is necessary to ensure community and officer safety.

“This plan is a delicate balance of utilizing officers and detectives from the entire department while minimizing impact to other workgroups,” she said. “The goal is to ensure we maintain expected levels of service to the community and improve response times.”

As for Crane’s comments about overtime costs and manpower numbers, Williams said: “I can assure you we are doing everything we can to protect our residents, protect our officers, and maintain our healthy police department within our resources.”

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