Archives for 2021

Dialysis Patients Are Counting on Congress to Pass the Bipartisan BETTER Kidney Care

By Brendan Flanagan

As the COVID-19 pandemic has dominated headlines and airwaves over the past year and a half, immunosuppressed Americans have received special attention in our conversations about public health and healthcare policy. Now, even as vaccination rates climb, we need to continue to find ways to care for some of the most vulnerable Americans, including those right here in Arizona.

One group of immunosuppressed patients that hasn’t received enough attention, though, is patients with kidney disease. In Arizona alone, there are over 14,000 kidney disease patients receiving dialysis treatments. That’s over 14,000 friends and neighbors who desperately need our help. At a moment when our world is increasingly aware of public health issues, it’s especially important that we continue to identify ways we can help kidney patients and improve the way End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) is treated in the U.S. 

Right now, there’s a bipartisan bill introduced by Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) called the BETTER Kidney Care Act which could help. This bill could streamline how we treat kidney patients while also offering some other vital services that make their life-saving treatments more accessible. For some patients, it can also help better prepare them to eventually receive a kidney transplant. 

One of the bill’s main goals is to make coordinated care services – which are severely needed – more broadly available for ESRD patients. It’s common for ESRD patients to also have diabetes, heart disease, or other conditions in addition to their kidney disease, meaning they need to see a range of different doctors and care providers who prescribe different treatments and medications that may interfere with one another. Without an easy way for doctors to stay in touch with each other, it falls on the patient to make sure each doctor knows what the others are doing. 

With the coordinated care provisions of the BETTER Kidney Care Act, it will be easier for those doctors to get on the same page, which will help to improve overall care and ensure that all of a patient’s needs are being fully addressed. In the end, they’ll have fewer appointments to attend and spend less on medical bills. 

This bill does more than simply make it easier for patients’ doctors to communicate treatments and prescriptions, though. It also offers transportation to and from a dialysis patient’s local clinic. Since it’s difficult for many patients to get to and from their clinic without someone being there to assist them, these services make it easier for patients to keep up with their appointments and stay healthy, which is a major benefit considering most dialysis patients need to go into their clinic three or four times each week for exhausting treatments that can take several hours. 

Beyond transportation, it also notably provides dental care, something a lot of ESRD patients don’t otherwise have access to. It’s hugely important, however, for patients who are trying to get a kidney transplant. Offering dental care means that patients can be sure they’re remaining on track to receive a kidney transplant, which is already a difficult enough process. 

The BETTER Kidney Care Act is a crucial step toward improving the way we treat kidney patients in the U.S., and it’s encouraging to see lawmakers like Senator Sinema leading the way on this issue. Kidney patients in Arizona are counting on them and this life-saving bill. 

Dialysis patients need more attention in our discussions about healthcare policy, and the BETTER Kidney Care Act is where lawmakers should start. It’s promising for Arizonans that Senator Sinema helped bring this bill forward, but it’s not enough. Dialysis patients across America need our help, and it starts with Congress passing this crucial legislation.  

Money, Power, and Revenge: The Truth About “Critical Race Theory”

Nearly six decades ago, Martin Luther King, Jr. fought for a better world, imploring us to judge others by “the content of their character.” He offered a vision of an America that united people across racial, political, and economic lines—a vision that we can all believe in.

Dan Backer

The proponents of “Critical Race Theory” (CRT) offer no such vision. They only propose a world of endless grievances and revenge, petty cons, and abusing their power to ruin lives.

Where Dr. King saw a world of equals, CRT envisions only victims and vengeance. Where Dr. King called upon Americans to see the content of each others’ character, CRT calls for acts of theater and human sacrifices to cancel culture. Where Dr. King offered equality before the law—the only true, objective equality—CRT proposes only “equity,” the subjective decisions of petty tyrants over who gets what, when, and how. 

CRT is an enrichment scheme perpetrated by self-proclaimed “victims.” It is a sham that makes money for CRT’s rabid proponents, granting them power over the lives of others and exercising revenge for a seemingly endless stream of slights—real or imagined. CRT doesn’t solve problems; it shreds the social fabric of a nation by perpetuating an “us” versus “them” mentality.

While the proponents of CRT insist their platform only serves to expose America’s racist past, nothing about it offers a way to shape a better future. The evidence of CRT’s do-goodery is strikingly scarce. It lays the blame at the feet of all white Americans, no matter their thoughts or actions. If “Whiteness” is inherently oppressive and evil, then America is a morally bankrupt entity that deserves nothing but reproach—then America is evil and so are all patriotic Americans, white or otherwise.

At the heart of CRT is the concept of “equity” (not “equality,” which is an important distinction). The proponents of CRT believe in equality of outcome, with all Americans ending up at the same place, rather than the meritocracy implied by equality of opportunity.

Which brings us to the fundamental question: What does CRT’s better world look like? I can see Dr. King’s vision of a world in which we are all equal before the law, treat one another as we wish to be treated, and succeed or fail based on our own merits. But CRT’s world of equity is indescribable at best and insidious at worst. What makes that world better for everyone?

In effect, CRT only exists to empower a select few in acting out their perceived sense of grievance through racist vengeance against those whom they determine are—always undeservedly, of course—better-positioned in life. CRT seeks to control the allocation of money—other people’s money—with its proponents grifting their way to success through seven-figure consulting contracts. It is a revenge-based form of propaganda embodied by the woman wishing death on parents who don’t buy into it. CRT’s proponents are in the business of punishing children who don’t bow down to them.

The worst irony of all is that CRT does nothing to fight actual racism. According to new research out of Israel, propaganda like “Critical Theory Race” programming cannot train people to be less racist. Encounters aimed at forcing the heavy-handed eradication of racist thought, through weak tools like “diversity training,” do not ultimately alter discriminatory views and behavior. In the words of behavioral scientist Roni Porat: “The paucity of organizations in the field that apply proper scientific methods to examining the effectiveness of their programs is a worldwide problem.”

I’m reminded of Daryl Davis, a black man known for attending Ku Klux Klan rallies. Inspired by Dr. King, he taught us all how to engage in real, meaningful interactions, rather than scoring cheap political points. Davis went out and hugged actual KKK members to convince them about his humanity, and he changed hundreds of minds in the process.

But CRT is not meant to combat racism—because its fundamental premise rests on the endless existence of racism and anti-white racism being the only cure. CRT is not meant to bring Americans together or offer us a better vision of the world. It is a left-wing ideology with a cute cartoon, but one that never answers the question: Who pays? Who decides? Who controls?

The entire CRT machine is about money (other people’s money), power (to decide how money they don’t deserve should be spent), and revenge (for every petty slight, real and imaginary).

At its core, “Critical Race Theory” is more of the age-old, ugly ideology of divisive, hateful racism, and its proponents can’t describe their better world because they dont offer one.

Today more than ever, we must stand united in rejecting hatred and division—no matter the fancy new label—while upholding Dr. King’s dream of a better world.

Dan Backer is a veteran campaign counsel, having served more than 100 candidates and PACs, including two of the largest pro-Trump super PACs. He is a member of Chalmers & Adams LLC, a political law and litigation firm.

Allowing Medicare to Negotiate Drug Pricing Will Help Our Senior Citizens

By: Marsha Volkema

Chronic diseases, defined as medical conditions that last longer than a year, and which require continuous medical attention, affect a shocking number of Americans. In the United States, nearly 60 percent of adults have a chronic disease, and older adults are disproportionately affected by these chronic conditions, with 80 percent living with at least one. Tragically, chronic diseases are also the leading cause of death among older adults in this country, and the current steep price of prescription medication only worsens this reality, putting our senior citizens at serious risk. 

Growing old is a natural part of the human experience and something that should be celebrated. However, in order to enjoy the later stages of life, there are often unique health challenges that must be addressed. Unfortunately, our current system often leaves many of our country’s senior citizens by the wayside, especially when it comes to prescription medication. Too many Americans have had the heart-wrenching experience of watching their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents suffer unnecessarily simply because they cannot afford the prescription drugs they need. Our lawmakers need to ensure that our older generations can afford the medication that allows them to continue living healthy lives.

This is especially pertinent here in Arizona, where we are faced with a rapidly expanding senior population. Data from July of last year shows that residents over the age of 65 have been the fastest-growing demographic since 2010, increasing by more than 48 percent. Additionally, in 2018, Arizona ranked 12th in the nation for the percentage of our population over the age of 65, and we were also the 4th fastest aging state. 

With 75 percent of Americans between the ages of 50 and 64, and over 90 percent of Americans over the age 80, using prescription drugs, rising prescription drug prices are hitting Arizona’s seniors extremely hard. In the last year alone, nearly 1.7 million Arizonans could not afford the medicine they were prescribed. As a state and as a country, we cannot continue to allow our friends and family, especially our senior citizens, to go without the prescription medication they need in order to maintain a humane standard of living. 

Allowing Medicare to negotiate drug pricing on behalf of the American people would put an end to predatory price gouging by pharmaceutical companies, and it’s estimated that it could save nearly 100,000 lives annually. This solution is not only practical and effective but also very popular with Arizona residents. Over 4 million Arizonans are in support of allowing Medicare to negotiate with drug companies, and 87 percent of our state’s registered voters are in favor of requiring drug companies to negotiate with Medicare. 

Due to the popularity, practicality, and necessity of this initiative, allowing Medicare to negotiate drug pricing is an obvious choice for our congressional delegation in Washington. But we are counting on leaders like Senator Kyrsten Sinema, who has made it clear on multiple occasions that she will fight to expand Arizonans’ access to affordable and quality healthcare, to step up and take action by pushing for legislation that allows for Medicare negotiation to be passed into law this year.

Marsha Volkema is a senior on medicare, former healthcare worker and long-time activist in the west valley.

Governor Ducey: Protecting Arizona Voters

Arizona’s election laws make it easy to vote — but hard to cheat. Under Governor Doug Ducey’s leadership, Arizona continues to prioritize election integrity to further strengthen the process that makes our representative government a beacon of democracy.

Public confidence in voting is critical — it is the foundation upon which all our elections are built. This year, a number of election-related bills passed by the Arizona Legislature and signed by Governor Ducey send a clear message: every Arizonan eligible to vote will be able to vote, each of those votes will be counted and no one will be allowed to interfere with our elections.

In May, Governor Ducey signed Senate Bill 1485, which renames Permanent Early Voting List (PEVL) to Active Early Voting List (AEVL). Under this legislation, if a voter on the AEVL actively votes by mail, they will continue to receive an early ballot. If a voter on the AEVL does not return at least one early ballot over the course of four years (two consecutive primary elections and general elections, and any municipal elections that precede them) the voter will be sent a postcard asking if they still want to receive an early ballot.

The county recorder may additionally reach the voter by telephone, text message, or e-mail. Whether a voter opts to remain on the AEVL or not, they remain eligible to request an early ballot or vote in-person, ensuring no voter is ever disenfranchised.
The Governor’s signing of SB 1485 is just one of the many actions he took during the 2021 legislative session to protect Arizona voters. Another is the signing of HB 2569, which prohibits elections officials from using private funding in our elections. And there are many more: 

Signing of SB 1002 – early voting envelopes; party affiliation (Ugenti-Rita)
Specifies that the early ballot envelope must also not reveal the voter’s political party affiliation.

Signing ofSB 1003 – early voting; signature required; notice (Ugenti-Rita)
Requires the county recorder or other officer in charge of elections to make reasonable efforts to contact the elector and advise them of the missing signature on an early ballot envelope.

Signing ofSB 1492 – election law amendments (Shope)
Makes various changes to statute relating to elections including modifications of various deadlines.

Signing of SB 1497 – ballot measures; proposition 105; disclosure (Ugenti-Rita)
Requires for initiatives and referendums that a Proposition 105 notice be printed by the Secretary of State in the publicity pamphlet, in bold-faced type immediately below the Legislative Council analysis of the initiative or referendum.

Signing ofSB 1530 – early ballots; instructions; undeliverable (Mesnard)
Makes a simple change regarding the envelopes that early ballots are mailed in, requiring the envelope that the ballot is mailed in state “If the addressee does not reside at this address, mark the unopened envelope “Return to Sender” and deposit it in the United States Mail.”

Signing ofSB 1714 – campaign expenditures; out of state; disclosures (Mesnard)
Makes several changes and additions to statute regarding campaign expenditures for out-of-state contributors as it relates to advertisements.

Signing ofHB 2054 – voter registration database; death records (Kaiser)
Requires, rather than allows, the Secretary of State to compare the death records transmitted annually by the Arizona Department of Health Services with the Statewide Voter Registration Database.

Signing of HB 2307 – voting equipment; overvote notice (Kavanagh)
Requires the county board of supervisors, if the voting equipment used for an election rejects over-voted ballots or ballots containing irregularities, to provide a written notice on or near the voting equipment in clear view that advises if the voter chooses to override the overvoted office or measure or any other ballot irregularity, then the voter’s vote for that office or measure will not be tallied.

Signing ofHB 2308 – recall petitions and elections; revisions (Kavanagh)
Makes a number of changes to recall petition submissions and circulations as well as to recall elections. The bill creates consistency between initiatives, referenda and recalls. 

Signing ofHB 2359 – election equipment; access; locks (Kavanagh)
Requires voting machines and electronic pollbooks containing data ports, plugs, doors, and other methods of physical or electronic access to be secured in a manner preventing unauthorized access to the voting machine or electronic pollbook during an election.

Veto ofHB 2360 – committee; driver license voter registrations (Kavanagh)
Would have directed the Secretary of State to maintain and operate the driver license voter registration system with a committee of county recorders by December 31, 2021.

Signing of HB 2362 – elections; ballot privacy folders (Kavanagh)
Requires an election board judge to give a ballot privacy folder to a qualified elector along with the elector’s ballot when voting at a polling location. Specifies that a voter is not required to accept or use a ballot privacy folder.

Signing of HB 2363 – municipal election officers; certification training (Kavanagh)
Allows a city or town to train its own election employees if the training program is approved by the Secretary of State.

Signing of HB 2364 – election pamphlet submittals; identification required (Kavanagh)
Adds to the identification requirements for informational and publicity pamphlet submissions for school district override, initiative and bond elections.

Signing of HB 2569 – elections; private funding; prohibition (Hoffman)
Prohibits the state, city, town, county, school district or other public body that conducts or administers elections from receiving or expending private monies for preparing, administering or conducting an election, including registering voters.

Signing ofHB 2794 – election deadlines; modifications prohibited (Hoffman)
Stipulates that a political subdivision, agent or officer of this state or any other governmental entity may not alter or agree to alter any deadline, submittal date, filing date or other election-related date that is provided for in statute.

Signing ofHB 2905– early ballots; request required (Hoffman) 
Prohibits a county recorder, city or town clerk or other election officer from delivering or mailing an early ballot to a person who has not requested an early ballot for that election or a person who is not on the active early voting list. Any violation by an election officer will be classified as a class 5 felony. 

Strengthening our electoral system was not the only legislation enacted that will benefit people all across the state. Arizona is banning critical race theory in schools, implementing historic tax reform, protecting education freedom and more. Details on the reform-centered bills signed into law by the Governor can be found HERE.

New Data Shows Continued Increase in Phoenix’s Violent Crimes

New Data Shows an Increase in Phoenix’s Violent Crimes

The City of Phoenix has updated its quarterly crime statistics to reflect new data from the first quarter of 2021. While there has been a small decrease in the overall rate of crime in the city, the updated statistics for individual crime categories present a different perspective. The decrease in the overall crime rate is due to lower levels of property crime in Q1 2021. With everyone spending more time in their homes as a result of the COVID-19 lockdowns over the last year, the rate of property crime has drastically decreased across the nation. In its annual Uniform Crime Report (UCR) the FBI reported a 7.8% decrease in the property crime rate across the United States. 

“Among the violent crime statistics reported by the City of Phoenix, sharp increases can be seen in aggravated assault and murder.”

The decrease in the rate of property crime in Phoenix is notable, but there is serious cause for concern when examining the continued increase of violent crime in the city. Among the violent crime statistics reported by the City of Phoenix, sharp increases can be seen in aggravated assault and murder. The occurrence of aggravated assaults in Phoenix has nearly doubled since 2016, with more than 3,500 incidents in the first 2 quarters of 2021 alone. Generating even more concern is the rapidly increasing murder rate in the city. Since 2019, the occurrence of criminal homicide in Phoenix has increased more than 44%.

The increase of violent crimes in Phoenix is representative of a larger national trend. Across the country, crime rates are surging, with particularly acute increases in violent crimes. The FBI’s UCR report found that the overall rate of violent crime in the United States has increased by nearly 3% in the last year. Within this category, there has been a nearly 15% increase in the murder rate and a roughly 5% increase in aggravated assaults. In other major metropolises around the country like New York and Chicago, murder rates have been increasing at a similar rate to those in Phoenix. Chicago has seen an 18% increase in murders while New York has experienced a 13% increase during the same period.

The surge in violent crime in Phoenix and across the country can be attributed to the effects of COVID-19 lockdowns. With more people out of school, work, and lacking positive and productive outlets for their time, violence continues to take hold.

  1. https://www.fbi.gov/news/pressrel/press-releases/overview-of-preliminary-uniform-crime-report-january-june-2020

2. https://www.fbi.gov/news/pressrel/press-releases/overview-of-preliminary-uniform-crime-report-january-june-2020

3. https://www.bbc.com/news/57581270

Maricopa County Supervisor Gates on CyberNinja “Audit”

In this interview, County Supervisor Bill Gates discusses audit practices in Maricopa County with Mike Broomhead and explains why the “audit” being conducted by the inexperienced, conspiracy theory-driven, Trump fanatic CyberNinjas is not a real audit. The Maricopa County Supervisors were forced to purchase nearly $3 million in new election equipment due to the decertification of machines touched by the CyberNinjas.

Here is the interview:

Stephen Richer Hits Back!

Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer was a recent guest on KTAR’s Mike Broomhead Show. For an elected official who really wanted to make the County Recorder’s office boring again, he has utterly failed. Nevertheless, this was a fantastic interview in which Recorder Richer hit back on the conspiracy-driven, unqualified, self-professed auditors who have been destroying election integrity here in Arizona. Here is the interview:

Making Infrastructure Investments Last: Why Prescott Voted To Ban Plastic Drinking Water Pipes

By Cathey Rusing

There are few things in life that are certain, but one of them here in my hometown of Prescott, AZ is the fact that most of our buildings are built on hard rock like granite, making the resilience of our buried infrastructure even more important than it may be in other locations who don’t have to deal with such conditions.

I have become very knowledgeable about our topography because, as a member of the Prescott City Council, I have had to vote on projects that must work well in our conditions. In fact, the condition of our drinking water infrastructure is one of the reasons I actually decided to run for Council. A few weeks before declaring my candidacy, I visited a neighbor’s home that sustained significant damage from a ruptured plastic PVC water pipe. Despite past efforts to repair and preserve the pipe, it finally burst and led to substantial damage to their home.  However, they shouldn’t have been in that situation in the first place. At that point, I saw it as my duty to maintain and provide durable infrastructure for the public welfare of Prescott for generations to come.

After I was elected to the Council, I continued advocating for a better and more cost-effective solution to our water infrastructure problems. These kinds of projects can be very expensive – even with state and federal grants and low-interest loans available to municipalities and water system operators. Given the expense, and disruption that comes from upgrading our water infrastructure, it is really important that we plan for and make decisions for the long-term. 

Take my city as an example.  Today, there are more than 46,000 people living in Prescott, and we’ve grown by 16.28 percent since 2010, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. Given how great a place Prescott is to live, we should only expect future growth. That’s wonderful, but we must properly plan and think about where we might be in a generation or two to ensure that the infrastructure we invest in today will support and help us manage this future growth. 

As I delved into infrastructure research, I learned about different kinds of pipe materials. One of the most important lessons is that not all pipes are created equally, and there are many variations based on how they’re made, what material is used, or even what the soil looks like where the pipe will be installed. The plastic pipes that we have running under much of Prescott may have been cheaper to initially purchase when past city leaders chose to use them, but they crack more easily, don’t last as long, and can actually lose some of their ability to handle pressure at higher temperatures in the soil or even melt if exposed to high temperatures from a fire. 

We’ve also seen pictures on social media of melted plastic trash cans and mailbox stands from the Arizona heat. Imagine the pipe carrying your drinking water melting or being deformed in that same way. A recent California wildfire melted a 7.5-mile stretch of plastic pipe that was a major conveyance for a drinking water system. We need pipes that will last for generations, be environmentally friendly, and resilient enough to handle both our rocky terrain and the challenges tossed at us from prolonged extreme drought and rising temperatures.

I know it sounds like we’re looking for a unicorn, but as I’ve learned, there a pipe material that can do just that: it’s made from a material called ductile iron. Through my research, I learned that water mains made from this material have a service life of 90 to 100 years – that’s nearly three times as long as PVC – is made from recycled steel and iron, and uses less energy to move water. 

Since I was elected, I’ve worked with my fellow Councilmembers to explore the cost benefits and return on investment we could realize as a city if we stopped using plastic pipes and switched to ductile iron. 

After a valuable Council study session, substantive discussions with my colleagues, and important input from our Public Works Director, we unanimously voted to update our General Engineering Standards in a way that will balance costs without compromising the integrity of project materials. This change will save our taxpayers millions of dollars over the long-term and give residents peace of mind that we’re using materials in infrastructure projects that are designed to last.  In fact, it also puts Prescott in good company with over two dozen communities in Arizona like Phoenix and Tempe that have made similar decisions to exclude plastic pipes from their drinking water systems. 

Infrastructure has always been vitally important to the success of Prescott. The process that we underwent to upgrade our engineering standards can be a model for other projects and even other cities in a similar situation. We did our research, put in the hard work to ensure that our drinking water will remain clean, affordable, and accessible for generations. We want Prescott to set the “gold standard” for infrastructure and hope to apply these lessons to other projects to aim for a bright future for generations to come! 

Cathey Rusing is a city councilmember in Prescott, AZ.

Twin33s: Innovation is Creating Opportunity in the Shipping Industry

By JP Padres

Congress, in collaboration with the Biden Administration, is hard at work considering legislation that will shape how our economy recovers and operates in the future. Our policymakers now have the unique opportunity to rethink decades-old regulations, particularly in the shipping industry, that no longer serve their intended purpose and implement policy changes that enhance sustainability practices in private industry.

A simple and cost-free way for the federal government to make a significant impact to reduce CO2 emissions is to allow Twin 33 freight trucks to operate. It is estimated by Americans for Modern Transportation that if Twin 33s could operate in 2018, they would have saved 274 million gallons of fuel, reduced CO2 emissions by 3.12 million tons, and resulted in 3.36 billion vehicle miles traveled in the United States. Studies also revealed that Twin 33s move the same amount of goods with 18% fewer trips, which means there is less congestion on our highways.

Over 20 states, including Arizona, already recognize the positive environmental and economic impact of this type of vehicle and allow Twin 33 delivery trucks to operate. But because it’s not legal at the federal level yet, Twin 33 delivery trucks cannot cross state borders, which reduces shipping efficiency.

Twin 33s are two thirty-three-foot trailers attached to a freight truck cab. Currently, these types of trucks are only allowed to operate with two twenty-eight-foot trailers attached, even though there are other freight vehicles allowed to drive on the highway that are larger than a Twin 33. An increase in the size of a delivery vehicle doesn’t change the weight limit because operators still have to abide by the law and allow no more than 80,000 lbs of freight on the truck. Adding a conservative five feet to each trailer is incredibly beneficial to the shipping industry because not only is it more environmentally friendly, it increases cargo capacity and reduces costs for the consumer as more and more deliveries are being made across the country.

Over the past year, businesses rapidly adapted to a remote work environment and transformed their operating models to fit the growing e-commerce industry. The success of e-commerce businesses heavily depended on their shipping partners’ ability to safely and quickly deliver their products to paying customers. America’s shipping industry played one of the most important roles during the pandemic. Our cargo shippers delivered critical healthcare supplies, including medications and the coronavirus vaccine, while also keeping our economy open and operating through e-commerce.

E-commerce accounted for over 21% of all retail sales last year, which was a notable increase from 16% in 2019. In total, Americans spent $861 billion online with U.S. merchants over the course of 2020, and it’s expected to continue growing. Delivery services have always been an integral part of the U.S. economy, and this fact was amplified over the past year, which is why we need to make policy changes to allow cargo shippers to operate more efficiently while also reducing carbon emissions.

Most cargo shipping companies are already striving to become more sustainable and invest in innovative operations to reduce their carbon footprint, and Congress should aid their initiative by allowing Twin 33s to operate. I encourage you to support your local congress person or senator to move to allow drivers in Arizona to cross state lines by making these delivery trucks legal at the federal level.

JP Padres is an International Trade and Logistics Consultant, and Tucson Ward 3 City Council Candidate

Phoenix is on the brink of a public safety crisis

By Chris Rutherford

Phoenix is on the brink of a public safety crisis. As one of the fastest-growing cities in America, Phoenix faces the unique challenge of expanding its core infrastructure to match the rapidly expanding population. One of the key areas our city has struggled to keep pace in is the staffing of law enforcement officers. While the city’s population has exploded over the last decade, the growth of the police force has remained stagnant, placing the city well behind law enforcement staffing recommendations.

 

Staffing guidelines suggest there should be a ratio of three police officers for every 1,000 citizens. The city of Phoenix currently has an active force of roughly 3,000 sworn police officers. With a population of 1,733,630, our city has an officer to citizen ratio of 1.7 officers per 1,000 citizens, down from 2.4 in 2010. As the ratio between officers and citizens continues to decline, crime is on the rise in Phoenix. Between 2019 and 2020, Phoenix saw a 175% increase in domestic violence murder which trended with the rest of the violent crime increases throughout the city. These staggering numbers raise alarms when you consider the reality that our police are tasked with protecting us from these hastily increasing threats while operating at just half of their staffing capacity. Now more than ever, it is critical that we ensure Phoenix’s police force is adequately staffed and provided with the necessary resources to protect our community from the increasing occurrences of crime.

These numbers become even more concerning when comparing Phoenix’s police force to its total population and the population of other comparably sized cities. One startling example is the city of Philadelphia. Philadelphia’s population is just 9% smaller than that of Phoenix, but their police force is more than 225% larger.

Adding to the cause for concern is the fact that our police force is facing a further staffing crisis in the years to come. 31% of the officers we currently have in Phoenix will be eligible for retirement from the force within the next year1. This number will balloon to 46% over the next five years, leaving our city more vulnerable than ever while the population continues to increase. As the population continues to grow and the size of the police force continues to shrink, our overworked police officers will be forced to take on even more duties to account for the staffing shortages. 

Phoenicians are taking note of these issues and their effect on the community. Our citizens have a largely positive relationship with their law enforcement officers. Over 60% of Phoenix residents that have interacted with the police have had a positive experience and 73% believe that Phoenix police do a better job protecting us than other major cities. Factoring in the stressful circumstances our officers find themselves in due to staffing shortages, Phoenix PD has developed a strong reputation among the community. 

While their overall sentiment is positive, many citizens are concerned about the continued strength of the police force. 63% of people in Phoenix believe that there should be more police officers to reflect the rapidly expanding population of the city. On top of this, five out of every six citizens believe that our city would be better protected with more police officers. 

As Phoenix continues to expand, the issue of crime will only become more apparent and the consequences more dire. Without a plan to increase the strength of our police force and replace officers who will be retiring over the coming years, we could find ourselves in the midst of a public safety crisis. It’s time for us to bring together our elected officials, law enforcement representatives, stakeholder groups, and the community to develop long-term solutions to protect our city and support our police officers. 

About the Author: Chris Rutherford is a Phoenician and son of fallen Phoenix Police Officer Paul Rutherford.

  1. City of Phoenix. Quarterly Budget Update and Performance Statistics. 3/31/2021