A group of new Phoenix police assistants are working the city's streets in marked vehicles and uniforms, responding to a variety of calls in an effort to free up patrol officers for more urgent matters.

The 16 civilian assistants, who graduated in November, are driving in marked vehicles wearing a uniform, but are not sworn police officers, Phoenix police officials said.

Phoenix Police Sgt. Jonathan Howard said police assistants have been used to help officers in the past, and they will be recognized by their vehicles and uniforms, that differ from police officers.

Police assistants respond to calls such as to file reports for car accidents, thefts, burglaries or criminal damage that do not involve a suspect at a scene or another potentially dangerous situation.

The assistants are not police officers and are not trained to carry a gun or use force. They can file reports and even take fingerprints, AZCentral reports.

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