There is only so much our front line first-responder heroes can take before they snap. When he joined the force to fight crime a full 14 years ago, this veteran officer never imagined he would resign in public, over the radio. Experts call it a cry for help and confirm that Officer Mark Rine had a bunch of good reasons to cry out. Officers just like him around the country are suffering in silence.
Public cry for help
This tragic incident happened in Phoenix, Arizona but it’s waiting to happen in every other American city at any moment. Defunding the police sent exactly the wrong message. All it did was embolden the criminals while demoralizing those attempting to provide the public with law and order.
The positive coming from what happened is that it’s calling attention to the toll staff shortages are taking on officers.
As Friday night turned into Saturday morning, November 6, Officer Mark Rine, who answers to “933 Henry” on the radio, was at the end of a grueling shift. Just this one time, he didn’t have it in him to answer another call, no matter how devoted he was to protecting the public.
When a duty call came in at 12:26 a.m., he tried to avoid insubordination with a hint to the dispatcher. “33 Henry – I’m 10-7 in four minutes.” His compliance was such a foregone conclusion that the “no your not” came through loud and clear between the lines in the response.
For a full minute, the dispatcher and another officer try to convince Rine everyone’s stuck working late.
“I’ll check with the LT (Lieutenant), I think we’re also mandatory holdover until the calls go down,” the dispatcher notes followed by the officer adding “Patrol 94, we’re being held over for a little bit if you can get out and answer some calls I’d appreciate it.” The public heard that as a request but the officer knew it was an order. Everybody may indeed be working late but not him. Not this time.
No reply at all
The dispatcher tried again. “So, 933 Henry for traffic.” Hmmm. Rine made up his mind and radioed back, “33 Henry – I’ll be going upstairs to fill out my resignation letter then.” It too, went public.
The stunned anonymous officer in the dispatch center couldn’t let that go unanswered. “I just want to reiterate, second shift is being held over.” The equally stunned dispatcher backed him up. “I copy. All second shift, 91, 92, 93 will be held over until further notice.”
Rine radioed back his public clarification. “And Patrol 94, 933 Henry can go home.” That wasn’t what dispatch said but it was what they were stuck with, whether they liked it or not. The dispatcher whined at dead air for a few tries. “Patrol 94 – no response on radio.”
According to his formal resignation, which has not been accepted yet, Rine writes, “I can no longer work in an environment where equal accountability does not exist. I will no longer work in an environment where I do other squad and shift’s work, do my own, and then be demanded to do the next shift’s work as well.” He also noted, “I am tired of being used, being abused, running on little food, and little sleep. I resign my position. 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.”
Phoenix police aren’t talking about officer Rine directly but on Wednesday, Executive Assistant Chief Michael Kurtenbach was hauled in front of a Phoenix Public Safety and Justice Subcommittee meeting. He told them staffing levels are horrible. “We are losing officers at an accelerated rate. The department is running 51 patrol staff below the 1,096 patrol officers considered minimum staffing.” They can’t lose another officer. As their roster gets shorter the crime rate’s going through the roof.
“Calls for service are going up, violent crime is going up, response times are going up, at some point we’re going to have to seriously look at redeploying what already exists if we can’t bring new officers through the door.” The numbers say that 254 Phoenix Officers will leave the force by the end of this year, while they’re expecting to handle 11,000 more emergency calls than in 2020. They’ve already “had to get creative to fill needed positions on the street, saying they’ve taken some of their specialty officers and are using them on patrol,” Kurtenbach confirmed.