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Phoenix leaders seek an alternative solution to federal mandates on police department reform

photo of Phoenix
Earlier today, Thursday, Jan. 11, Phoenix leaders published its ‘road to reform’ document, which can be viewed in its entirety by clicking the above image. (Graphic: City of Phoenix/DigitalFreePress)

Phoenix Police publish ‘road to reform’ to outline pathways to reform

By Terrance Thornton | Digital Free Press

Phoenix city leaders are seeking an alternative solution to the Department of Justice dictating changes of reform at the local police department.

Earlier today, Phoenix leaders published its ‘road to reform’ document available HERE, which local policymakers say seeks a technical assistance letter from the DOJ rather than a formal consent decree.

City leaders published the request that was made public earlier today drafted by Steptoe LLP that was delivered to DOJ officials on behalf of the city of Phoenix.

“In Phoenix, the heavy hand of federal oversight in the form of a consent decree and an independent monitor is not the appropriate remedy,” one excerpt from the report reads.

Instead, city officials say, a technical assistance letter would allow the DOJ to provide remedial recommendations and mechanisms to ensure proper implementation without the presence of a court-enforced consent decree and monitor.

This request is being made as the Phoenix Police Department implements a sweeping wave of reforms and improvements, which are the focus of the report, according to Phoenix Police Chief Michael Sullivan.

“We need to be a self-assessing, self-correcting agency,” he said in a prepared statement. “And that’s not just something we say.”

Chief Sullivan points out reforms presented in the Jan. 11 report to the DOJ outlines best practices adopted, implemented and monitored at the Phoenix Police Department.

Since joining the Phoenix Police Department, Interim Chief Sullivan has spearheaded a revision of the Use of Force Policy and implemented a transparent community feedback protocol for major policy changes moving forward.

New scenario-based trainings have been mandated for both sworn and professional staff at Phoenix PD. There are more robust systems of accountability being implemented, which create a culture of transparency. The Phoenix City Council has supported these reforms and at times even helped to initiate the improvements. City Council authorized funding for body worn cameras, The Community Assistance Program, (CAP) community court, and authorized millions of dollars in funding to address homelessness.

“Although the City and PPD welcome the additional insights that the DOJ findings report may bring, they are not willing to hand over PPD’s continuing reform to a consent decree process that is complicated, expensive, and cedes control to the DOJ, an independent monitor, and a federal judge,” the report states.

Officials at City Hall say the city of Phoenix is welcoming guidance on next steps from the DOJ, while also remaining committed to the reform process regardless of federal involvement.

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