Paul's Note - August 7th, 2020

While I’m aware that there are varied thoughts on what role our police department plays in the community, recently, a local news report regarding officer attrition in the Tucson Police Department left the wrong impression. The response from Chief Chris Magnus, sent to council offices earlier this week, is below. I want to reiterate that I am committed to bringing in more academy classes and expanding our community service officer program.

Note that “Normal Attrition” covers retirements, discipline or fail to meet training standards separations and family moves/issues, while “Dysfunctional Attrition” is leaving for other police jobs or similar work.

Recently, there was a segment on KVOA reported by Lupita Murillo about “TPD’s Officer Shortage.”  The report began with the line, “The Tucson Police Department is losing more officers than ever.”  Obviously, we are always concerned about our ability to retain officers, but the number of officers that attrite from the agency has almost always varied greatly from month to month.  The department’s normal average attrition rate has historically been 6 a month over the course of a year.  It is true that our attrition numbers have been higher in June and July (for many reasons as you can see below), but we are still maintaining our yearly mean of 6 per month because attrition rates were so low earlier in the year. 

Here are the attrition charts for June and July:

June 2020 Separations:

5 retired

4 terminated or resigned in lieu of termination (discipline or fail to meet standards)

1 resigned due to failing training

1 resigned to go to Pima County Sheriff’s Dept.

1 resigned to go to Border Patrol

1 resigned to return to Tucson Fire Dept.

“Normal” Attrition

“Dysfunctional” Attrition

10

3

July 2020 Separations:

5 retired

4 terminated or resigned in lieu of termination (discipline or fail to meet standards)

2 resigned due to failing training

1 resigned due to family issues/need to move out of state

1 resigned to return to the Army

“Normal” Attrition

“Dysfunctional” Attrition

11

1

Compensation, equipment issues (Prop 101 funding will be ending soon with no renewal efforts in the immediate future), and concerns about community/political support—especially with the current national dialog are all issues officers leaving the department have identified as troubling to them.  A major concern we have heard repeatedly is that officers fear if they have to use force, especially deadly force, they will be excoriated in the media and not treated fairly overall.  I’m not saying I agree with this, I’m just repeating the feedback we have received during exit interviews.

You should be aware that the Pima County SO, Oro Valley PD, and the Airport Authority Police are all doing extensive hiring right now—with added incentives for lateral officers.  We expect to lose officers to these agencies, although at this point we don’t know how many.  We also anticipate a greater number of officers choosing to retire when they hit their 20-year mark rather than stick around for additional years.  In addition, we selected 52 recruits to go into our academy that has just started but we are now down to 30.  Some failed their physicals; many failed their psychological evaluations; some just changed their minds; and we discovered serious problems in some of their backgrounds.  Very disappointing—but that’s what we’re dealing with these days.