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'A cry for help': Phoenix officer apparently resigns while on the job; cites being overworked, under-appreciated

Posted at 1:30 PM, Nov 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-14 14:30:07-05

PHOENIX — Citing being overworked, abused by leadership, and running on little food and sleep, an officer with the Phoenix Police Department apparently resigned from his position recently while on duty.

ABC15 obtained a copy of Phoenix police officer Mark Rine's resignation letter, dated Nov. 6, 2021, that he submitted to the Phoenix Police Department. ABC15 also received a copy of radio traffic of Rine apparently committing to writing a resignation letter.

In the letter, Rine said he was overworked, under-appreciated, abused, and operating on little food and sleep.

"I am tired of being used, being abused, running on little food, and little sleep. I resign my position," Rine wrote. "I will no longer work in an environment where a lieutenant punishes an entire squad and holds over an entire squad because one or two people will not 'volunteer' to hold over."

The Phoenix Police Department confirmed to ABC15 that the letter was legitimate and that Rine did turn it in. However, he remains employed by the City of Phoenix, a spokesperson said.

ABC15 attempted to reach Rine on Thursday for comment, but was unsuccessful.

"That is a cry for help, that’s what that is," said Ernie Stevens, a former police officer and currently a Crisis and Resilient Specialist with Southwest Texas Regional Advisory Council, which oversees and manages the healthcare system for several counties in Texas.

"A lot of police departments do not create a culture of wellness to help out their officers," he said.

On December 2, 2014, Rine shot and killed 34-year-old Rumain Brisbon. He was not charged with a crime. However, the City of Phoenix did agree to a $1.5 million settlement with Brisbon's family.

Rine's apparent resignation comes in the midst of a major staffing shortage at the Phoenix Police Department, one of many police agencies across the country that are eagerly trying to recruit more officers.

Currently, the Phoenix Police Department has 1,045 patrol officers, which is 51 officers less than its minimum goal of 1,096 officers. There are a total of 2,770 sworn officers in the department, below the more than 3,000 positions the City of Phoenix has budgeted for.

There is also no limit to the amount of overtime a Phoenix police officer can work.

The night before Rine submitted his resignation, the Cactus Park Precinct, where Rine worked, responded to a deadly shooting and a deadly hit-and-run. Because of those investigations, the on-duty lieutenant had several officers work two hours past the end of their scheduled shifts.

On Wednesday, the City of Phoenix's Public Safety and Justice Subcommittee presented police department staffing numbers to the committee showing that the number of police officers on patrol in the Phoenix Police Department is below the minimum goal for hiring.

Ben Leuschner, a Phoenix police lieutenant and current president of the Phoenix Police Sergeants and Lieutenants Association (PPSLA), said one of the main reasons for the current staffing crisis is that officers feel attacked by news reports and unsupported by city leaders.

"I’ve never seen it this bad, the negativity coming from outside the police department on our members. And that takes a toll," said Leuschner. "They feel extremely attacked at times. And when you're in a job where you don't know if the next call you go on is the end of your career, that leads some people to start going 'maybe this is not the right career,'"

To aid in hiring, the Phoenix Police Department is offering $7,500 bonuses to new recruits and officers who make lateral moves from other departments. However, Phoenix police said those incentives have not made much of an impact so department leadership is expanding their recruiting efforts and actively reaching out to women and people of color about interest in joining the agency.