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Justice Department Finds Civil Rights Violations by Phoenix Police Department and City of Phoenix

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Justice Department Finds Civil Rights Violations by Phoenix Police Department and City of Phoenix Empty Justice Department Finds Civil Rights Violations by Phoenix Police Department and City of Phoenix

Post by Paul Fri 14 Jun 2024, 6:30 am

Following a comprehensive investigation, the Justice Department announced today that the Phoenix Police Department (PhxPD) and the City of Phoenix (City) engage in a pattern or practice of conduct that violates the U.S. Constitution and federal law.
Specifically, the Department finds that:

  • PhxPD uses excessive force, including unjustified deadly force and other types of force.
  • PhxPD and the City unlawfully detain, cite, and arrest people experiencing homelessness and unlawfully dispose of their belongings. This is the first time the Department has found a pattern or practice of conduct that focuses on the rights of people experiencing homelessness.
  • PhxPD discriminates against Black, Hispanic, and Native American people when enforcing the law.
  • PhxPD violates the rights of people engaged in protected speech and expression.
  • PhxPD and the City discriminate against people with behavioral health disabilities when dispatching calls for assistance and responding to people in crisis.


The Department also described serious concerns about PhxPD’s treatment of children. Finally, the Department identified deficiencies in policy, training, supervision, and accountability that contribute to PhxPD and the City’s unlawful conduct.
“The Justice Department has concluded there is reasonable cause to believe that the City of Phoenix and the Phoenix Police Department engage in a pattern or practice of conduct that deprives its residents and visitors, including Black, Hispanic, and Native American people, of their rights under the Constitution and federal law,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “The release of today’s findings report is an important step toward accountability and transparency, and we are committed to working with the City of Phoenix and Phoenix Police Department on meaningful reform that protects the civil rights and safety of Phoenix residents and strengthens police-community trust.”



“Phoenix residents deserve nothing less than fair, non-discriminatory, and constitutional policing,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Our comprehensive investigation revealed unlawful and unconstitutional practices in the Phoenix Police Department’s enforcement activities that impact some of Phoenix’s most vulnerable residents, including Black, Hispanic, and Native American people, homeless people, and those experiencing behavioral health crises. The police also used excessive force, delayed necessary medical aid, and infringed on the civil rights of those engaged in First Amendment-protected conduct, including demonstrations and protests. Our findings provide a blueprint and a roadmap that can help transform the police department, restore community trust and strengthen public safety efforts in one of America’s largest cities. We are committed to working collaboratively with the police department, city officials, and the public to institute reform and remedy the violations we identified in our investigation.”



The Department opened this investigation on Aug. 5, 2021. Career attorneys and staff in the Civil Rights Division’s Special Litigation Section conducted the investigation. The team conducted numerous onsite tours; interviewed PhxPD officers, supervisors, and command staff; spoke with City officials and employees; accompanied behavioral crisis responders, specialty squads that frequently interacted with unhoused people, and officers on ride-alongs; reviewed thousands of documents; and reviewed hundreds of hours of body-worn camera footage.



As it does in every case, the division met regularly throughout the investigation with City and PhxPD officials to provide feedback on the observations of the Department and its policing experts and on reforms to address the issues observed. Multiple subject-matter experts advised the division on the investigation. Collectively, these experts have decades of experience in assessing police tactics and training, internal investigations, 911 call-taking and dispatch, and statistical analyses. Department attorneys and staff also met with community members, advocates, service providers, and other stakeholders in the Phoenix area.
Consistent with its standard practice in investigations of other cities, the Department provided a detailed briefing on the findings to the City and PhxPD on Tuesday, and proposed that the parties agree in principle to negotiate expeditiously and in good faith to reach a comprehensive court-enforceable settlement with independent monitoring.



The Department conducted this investigation pursuant to 34 U.S.C. Section 12601, which prohibits law enforcement officers from engaging in a pattern or practice of conduct that deprives people of rights protected by the Constitution or federal law, Safe Streets Act of 1968, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The Department will conduct outreach to members of the Phoenix community to explain the findings and for input on remedies to address the Department’s findings. Individuals may also submit recommendations by email at phoenix.community@usdoj.gov or by phone at 866-432-0335.



This is one of 11 investigations into law enforcement agencies opened by the Justice Department under Section 12601 since April 2021. Last year, the Department issued Section 12601 findings reports regarding two of those investigations: the Louisville, Kentucky, Metro Police Department and Minneapolis Police Department. The eight other investigations cover the Lexington, Mississippi, Police DepartmentLouisiana State PoliceMemphis, Tennessee, Police DepartmentMount Vernon, New York, Police DepartmentNew York City Police Department’s Special Victims DivisionOklahoma City Police DepartmentWorcester, Massachusetts, Police Department; and Trenton, New Jersey, Police Department.
Additional information about the Civil Rights Division is available on its website at www.justice.gov/crt.
Information specific to the Civil Rights Division’s Police Reform Work can be found at www.justice.gov/crt/file/922421/download.
The Justice Department will hold a virtual community meeting at 6 p.m. PT / 9 p.m. ET.  Members of the public are encouraged to attend to learn more about the findings. Please join the meeting at www.zoomgov.com/webinar/register/WN_wc5Fgkk9TaueUHSmV0J_Eg.
Spanish translation forthcoming (La traducción al español estará disponible próximamente).
View the findings report here.
View the executive summary here.
View the executive summary in Spanish here.
Updated June 13, 2024
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Justice Department Finds Civil Rights Violations by Phoenix Police Department and City of Phoenix Empty AZ CENTRAL

Post by Paul Fri 14 Jun 2024, 6:42 am

Justice Department Finds Civil Rights Violations by Phoenix Police Department and City of Phoenix Scree467


LINK

The Department of Justice has released its investigation of the Phoenix Police Department nearly three years after the probe began on Aug. 5, 2021.
The investigation came after a headline-grabbing stretch of police shootings and several incidents that drew national attention and sharp criticism of Phoenix police from activists and city officials.
The federal agency's key findings were: Phoenix police "use excessive force, including unjustified deadly force;" Phoenix police and the city "unlawfully detain, cite, and arrest people experiencing homelessness and unlawfully dispose of their belongings;" Phoenix police discriminate "against Black, Hispanic and Native American people when enforcing the law;" Phoenix police violate the rights of protesters; and the Police Department and the city "discriminate against people with behavioral health disabilities when dispatching calls for assistance and responding to people in crisis."
Justice Department:Phoenix police violated civil rights, used illegal excessive force

[size=32]DOJ: Phoenix police issues traceable to bad training[/size]

The Justice Department report said that many of the problematic incidents it describes stemmed from poor training. “Officers were doing what PhxPD trained them to do,” the report said.
That includes, the report said, improper use of neck and leg restraints and the unlawful arrests of protestors in 2020.
The report noted the department had implemented new training programs and had instituted a new policy in 2023 on the use of force. But, it said, the department had an ingrained “force first” culture. That, the report said, “would take a concentrated effort to change.”



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The report noted the 2024 “Road to Reform” report by the Phoenix Police Department, in which the department asserts it can make needed reforms without federal intervention or judicial oversight. But, the report said, experience shows that “reforms on paper are not enough to address entrenched unlawful practices of the degree” that investigators found.
As part of recommended reforms, the Justice Department suggested new training on how to use force, including when to use less force as a person’s behavior changes.
The Justice Department also recommended training to help officers distinguish between the personal property of unhoused people and abandoned items.
It also recommended training on policing protests, including addressing how to balance protecting public safety and First Amendment rights.
The report called for increased training on dealing with behavioral health calls, including better coordination with the mental health non-profit, Solari, that the department partners with.
The report also called for increased training on how police officers deal with youth and training for supervisors, including guidance on investigating cases involving the use of force.
— Richard Ruelas

[size=32]Community group say the report's findings were no surprise[/size]

Rebecca Denis from Poder in Action said that the report did not surprise her and the community her organization represents.
"This is exactly what community members have been coming forward and saying is the reality of this department and the truth of this department," she said.
The report just confirmed the reality the city has been trying to deny for years, Denis said.
She sets the blame for the the issues on the feet of Phoenix's current leaders.
"This is Mayor Kate Gallego; this happened under her leadership. She is responsible for this. She should be held accountable for this, as well as every other person that's been on the City Council and has refused to hold this department accountable and has protected this department," Denis said.
The report also reinforces points that people in the community have been making for years — the need to invest in housing and mental health resources, she said.
— Miguel Torres

Justice Department Finds Civil Rights Violations by Phoenix Police Department and City of Phoenix 74089108007-clarke





[size=32]Greg Stanton, former Phoenix mayor, responds to DOJ report[/size]

U.S. Rep. Greg Stanton, D-Ariz., who was the Phoenix mayor from 2012 to 2018, said Thursday that changes need to happen in the Phoenix Police Department.
The report cites several recommendations that stem from incidents in 2017 when Stanton was mayor, including excessive force against protesters and unlawful arrests of people experiencing homelessness.  
The DOJ reported that in one 2017 incident, police intentionally drove protesters toward a group of officers who were “waiting to fire lethal projectiles at them.”  
When Stanton was mayor, the city started the Community Action Response Engagement Services program, which the DOJ deemed a positive move toward access to city services.  
“I’m still reviewing the report, but I support the women and men in law enforcement who risk their lives to serve and protect our community each and every day. The vast majority of Phoenix Police Department officers perform their demanding jobs with honor and integrity,” Stanton said.  
“However, public safety depends on public trust. It’s clear there is work to be done to strengthen the relationship between officers and the community. I expect the Department will take this report seriously, and I have confidence in Chief Sullivan, Mayor Gallego and the Council to continue to implement necessary reforms,” he continued.  
— Sabine Martin

[size=32]'All we are trying to do is survive’: Phoenix police violated rights of people living on the streets[/size]

According to Thursday’s report, Phoenix police illegally arrested, ticketed and destroyed the property of people experiencing homelessness. 
Individuals were not given enough time to retrieve their possessions before being thrown away, which included phones, medication, personal identification, and in one case, a family member’s ashes.
The Justice Department said police were incentivized to cite and arrest unhoused people, with multiple officers referencing orders made to reach citation quotas or new guidelines. From January 2016 to March 2022, Phoenix police logged 376,600 hours on trespassing calls.
“The criminalization of homelessness has no place in our society today,” said Kristen Clarke, assistant attorney general for civil rights.
The report found that police recommended people move to the former homeless encampment known as “The Zone” to avoid citations. The encampment was removed in stages last year, forcing many people to relocate to other areas of the city.

Justice Department Finds Civil Rights Violations by Phoenix Police Department and City of Phoenix 74089963007-uscp-7-vutysmhhkxtgfyq-4-y-2-original





“All we are trying to do is survive,” one woman told investigators.
While the report acknowledges the city’s responsibility to keep public spaces clean and safe, officials said its response to Phoenix’s homelessness crisis harmed the already vulnerable community. The city’s homeless population has nearly tripled over the past decade. 
“Phoenix has given law enforcement the responsibility of addressing this complex social problem,” the report reads.
Service providers told investigators fewer people sought resources on days when city sweeps of homeless encampments happened. Clarke confirmed the Justice Department was closely monitoring the city’s actions during The Zone cleanup and that illegal stops and ticketing have continued after the encampment was cleared last November.
— Helen Rummel

[size=32]How are police handling homelessness near 'The Zone' now?[/size]

Bill Ellis, the new owner of Old Station Sub Shop, a downtown Phoenix eatery whose former owner was among the people who sued the city over "The Zone," called the area around his business "peaceful."
A year ago, the region was home to hundreds of people living on the street. The city was forced by the lawsuit to dismantle the sprawling Zone homeless encampment that spread across city blocks from Seventh and 15th avenues between Van Buren and Grant streets.
Ellis expressed praise and gratitude for the cleanup that he said has allowed Old Station to continue serving customers.
“We’re about a month and a half in at the Old Station, and it's pretty much what I hoped," he said. "We’re having a lot of fun, business is great, getting a lot of attention is nice, but people are coming back.”
Police, he said, have kept people experiencing homelessness from congregating where they used to. The treatment of homeless people is one of the focuses of the Justice Department's report on the Phoenix Police Department.
“Overall, I haven't had any issues at all. It's very quiet around here," Ellis said. "If there's any people, you know, kind of loitering and whatnot, the police are moving them right on.”
— Lux Butler

[size=32]Who is the Phoenix police chief?[/size]

Justice Department Finds Civil Rights Violations by Phoenix Police Department and City of Phoenix 74089965007-uscp-7-vutyruzr-481-im-9-rq-4-y-2-original


Michael Sullivan is serving as the Phoenix Police Department’s interim chief.
The Phoenix City Council appointed him to the job in 2022, tapping him to lead the department during the federal investigation.
Prior to his tenure in Phoenix, he was the deputy police chief in Baltimore. He replaced Jeri Williams, Phoenix’s first female police chief. She headed the department for five years.
Williams announced her retirement in May 2022, roughly a month after she faced a lawsuit from Phoenix police commanders and her second-in-command.
They accused her of falsely claiming she wasn't informed of plans to charge protesters as gang members following a 2020 protest. 
— Shawn Raymundo

[size=32]DOJ: Phoenix police don't distinguish between protest and civil unrest[/size]

The Justice Department report said that the Phoenix Police Department trains its officers in a way that makes no distinction between a demonstration and civil unrest. Officers are trained to prevent “innocent civilians” from joining a demonstration, the report said, implying that those demonstrations are somehow unlawful.
The report discussed a Phoenix police plan to handle civil disturbances. It required that officers target for arrest as many of the crowd’s “leaders” as possible, without noting that an arrest is only lawful if there was evidence of a crime.
The report said that officers are encouraged to liberally use projectiles, such as pepper spray balls, at protests, with little review of their use. One officer shot 1,000 pepper spray balls in one night during a 2020 protest, the report said. That officer led courses on the use of pepper spray balls and coordinated a 2021 course in crowd control, the report said.
A video used to train officers how to deal with protests showed a man being struck in the groin by a projectile, the report said. This occurred during a protest in downtown Phoenix in August 2017. A trainer said that police served simultaneous search warrants on the protester’s home and workplace, the report said, causing him to become “jobless and homeless at the same (expletive) time.” The report characterized the trainer's description as boastful.
Footage of the shot to the groin was set to the Whitney Houston song “I Will Always Love You,” with the moment of the groin shot timed to coincide with the single snare drum hit before the concluding soaring chorus, the report said.
An instructor told a training class that rights under the First Amendment were “very touchy,” the report said. That instructor said that a civil disturbance was defined as opposing, either actively or passively, the police or government. The report noted that such opposition is a core protection under the First Amendment’s right to protest.
— Richard Ruelas

Justice Department Finds Civil Rights Violations by Phoenix Police Department and City of Phoenix 74089535007-uscp-7-vutktxe-51-c-11-ech-04-y-2-original





[size=32]Police union head calls report 'a farce'[/size]

Phoenix Law Enforcement Association officials expressed frustration Thursday with the Justice Department's rollout of findings about the Phoenix Police Department and warned against the city entering into a consent decree with the federal government.
Leaders of the labor union, which represents officers and detectives within the city’s Police Department, called the DOJ’s investigation “a farce.” PLEA President Darrell Kriplean said the city’s police force has a “long history of self-assessment and self-correction” and asserted a consent decree would only “enrich” federal monitors, increase crime and decimate officer morale.
“In the end, our taxpayers are fleeced and our community will be less safe,” he said.
Kriplean said he would support a technical assistance letter, calling it a “collaborative” solution.
There are crucial differences between a technical assistance letter and a consent decree, although both can last for years and lead to significant expenses as reforms are implemented. A consent decree is ordered by a court, so if a law enforcement agency doesn’t meet the court’s standards, it can be held in contempt and subject to hefty fines. A technical assistance letter would allow the DOJ to make observations about what its investigation revealed and make recommendations on how issues should be reformed, but leave ultimate control in the hands of the city.The DOJ has not issued a technical assistance letter in more than a decade. It has made other agreements with police agencies that act as a contract and can lead to lawsuits if terms aren’t fulfilled. When cities and law enforcement agencies have refused agreements, the feds have generally chosen to file lawsuits in federal court against them. Those have almost always resulted in court orders that aren’t negotiated with local governments.
— Sasha Hupka

[size=32]DOJ: Phoenix Police Department has misguided notion of de-escalation[/size]

The Justice Department found that Phoenix police use unreasonable deadly force, unreasonable less-lethal force and have weak oversight leading to a pattern of excessive force.
One use-of-force finding: Phoenix police delayed medical aid to people who were incapacitated and, at times, used unreasonable force on already wounded people. The report described one woman being shot 10 times by officers who then waited more than nine minutes to approach her, even though she was immobile on the ground. 
Justice Department Finds Civil Rights Violations by Phoenix Police Department and City of Phoenix 74089964007-uscp-7-vutyt-1-j-7-zc-1-a-070-c-4-y-2-original




DOJ investigators “reviewed hundreds of lesson plans and PowerPoints, interviewed members of Phoenix police's Training Bureau, and personally attended dozens of hours of classroom and scenario-based training in Phoenix,” according to the report.
The Justice Department found that the Phoenix Police Department teaches a misguided notion of de-escalation. The report states that one Phoenix police trainer suggested that using immediate force stops a situation “before you really have to hurt someone,” and that he said “de-escalation, like talking nice, will get someone killed.”
The report makes five recommendations on how the police department can improve its use of force interactions, including improving reporting and training, adding more accountability mechanisms, improving data collection and creating force policies specific to vulnerable groups. 
The Police Department has already developed a new use-of-force policy that addresses some of the recommendations. It imposes multiple force-level tiers and automatic review processes for all use of force types. It also creates a database that can distinguish between each type of use-of-force case. 
The Department of Justice commended the Police Department for this new policy but pointed out that it has yet to be fully implemented, a reason the DOJ gives for believing that Phoenix police still need federal oversight. 
— Miguel Torres

[size=32]Report: Officers disparage, disrespect youth during encounters[/size]

The Justice Department’s investigation largely focused on officers’ use of force and retaliatory activities, as well as discriminatory policing against people of color, disabled individuals and the homeless.
But the investigation went on to raise concerns related to the Phoenix Police Department’s treatment of youth. It found that officers don’t “take into account the vulnerability of children and their stage of development.”
During the investigation, a police sergeant told the Justice Department that officers don’t treat youth differently from adults.
Phoenix officers reportedly escalated encounters with children, even during “minor issues.” The officers, the report added, would use combative language and needless force.
The report cites one incident where officers unlawfully detained a 15-year-old Latino boy who they had seen looking inside a truck at a car dealership during business hours. 
Officers reportedly threw the teen against a bus stop pole and held him by the back of the neck. They also handcuffed him without reading him his Miranda rights and searched his back without a warrant, according to the report.
In another incident, a 13-year-old boy with autism was handcuffed and placed in a neck restraint. The teen had walked out of school without permission, according to the report.
Kids interviewed complained of officers closing handcuffs “so tightly that they reached the point of pain and injury," the report states.
“For some children, officers put on handcuffs so tightly that their hands went numb and left marks on their wrists for months,” the report states. “Others said they sustained deep cuts on their wrists and, when they asked officers to loosen the cuffs, PhxPD instead tightened them further.”
The report added that officers violated children’s Miranda rights by questioning them without explaining their rights to stay silent or to an attorney.
The practice of questioning children in police custody can be “coercive,” the investigation explained, as “children are more likely to believe they have no choice but to answer an officer’s questions, even when that questioning is unlawful.”
Officers were also found to take a demeaning tone when talking to children and teens. The youth interviewed for the investigation said they were traumatized and degraded following their encounters with police.
One teen recalled an encounter where the officer patted them down and said: “If I was your dad, I would have beat the (expletive) out of you.”
Another described feeling hate from the officer who called the teen and his siblings “gangbangers.”
“Disparaging and disrespectful language from adults in positions of power can have a lasting effect on kids,” the report concluded in its section on police encounters with youth. “It can also contribute to fear and distrust of law enforcement from the next generation of Phoenix residents.” 
— Shawn Raymundo

[size=32]Phoenix leaders: Where's the Spanish version of the report?[/size]

Four Phoenix City Council members sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland on Thursday expressing "sincere disappointment" that the Justice Department did not provide a Spanish translation of the report about the investigation into the city and Phoenix Police Department. 
The Justice Department on Thursday released a 126-page report in English with a Spanish-language Executive Summary. It said a full Spanish translation was "forthcoming" but did not provide a timeline. 
Councilmembers Laura Pastor, Betty Guardado, Carlos Galindo-Elvira and Kesha Hodge Washington signed the letter. The four represent central, west and south Phoenix, plus downtown. 
"By not providing the report in Spanish, the Department has effectively denied many community members the ability to fully understand the investigation's conclusion and implications," the four wrote. 
The four urged Garland to immediately rectify this issue. 
— Taylor Seely

[size=32]Phoenix 'turned a blind eye' to major racial disparities in citations, arrests[/size]

The Phoenix Police Department discriminates against Black, Latino and Native American people in its enforcement activities, the Justice Department investigation found.
“Police officers have an obligation to enforce the law fairly and equally, but in Phoenix, officers are disproportionately targeting communities of color,” Kristen Clarke, the assistant attorney general for civil rights at the department, said during a press conference on June 13.
Black drivers in Phoenix are 144% more likely than white drivers to be arrested or cited for low-level moving violations, Clarke said.
Latino drivers are 40% more likely to be arrested or cited for the same thing, she said.
Phoenix police also enforce drug and alcohol offenses more severely against Black, Latino and Native people than against white people the investigation found, she said.
Phoenix police cite and arrest Black people for marijuana possession at nearly seven times the rate of white people. For Latinos the rate is more than three times higher, Clarke said.
Native people in Phoenix are 44 times more likely than white people to be cited or arrested for possessing or consuming an alcoholic beverage the investigation found, Clarke said.
Phoenix also disproportionately brings “quality of life” violations such as trespassing, loitering and pedestrian traffic violations against Black, Latinos and Native people, Clarke said.
Per capita, Black, Latino and Native pedestrians were more likely than white pedestrians to be cited or arrested “simply for walking in the street when there is a sidewalk,” Clarke said.
“The Police Department claims it was unaware of these significant racial disparities, but longstanding and frequently voiced concerns about discriminatory policing as well as overt displays of bias within the police force should have spurred the department to analyze its own data. Instead, the Police Department turned a blind eye toward the data, ignored unmistakable warnings and failed to uncover its own discriminatory policing patterns,” Clarke said.
— Daniel Gonzalez

[size=32]Report: Police have 'hair trigger tendency' when responding to people with behavioral health issues[/size]

The Justice Department report found Phoenix and its Police Department violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by discriminating against people with behavioral health disabilities in their provision of emergency services.
Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke on Thursday said each month about 10% of the city’s 911 calls are related to behavioral health and that officers spend “significant patrol time responding to these calls.”
“Even though resources are available for an alternative response, Phoenix directs only a small fraction of those calls to them. Even when there is no violence, weapons, no immediate threat and no need for police to immediately respond,” Clarke said.

Clarke said Phoenix police have a “hair trigger tendency” to use indiscriminate and overwhelming force and that is both pronounced and harmful.
The department’s analysis also found officers, including those with specialized training, quickly escalate encounters by using force and making arrests when police are on the scene specifically to provide a person with transport to behavioral health treatment services.
The report also found the city and Police Department must make “reasonable modifications” to its normal policies but that Phoenix has failed to make those important changes to avoid discriminating against people with behavioral health disabilities.
— Maritza Dominguez

[size=32]Despite charging protesters, County Attorney's Office left out of review[/size]

While the Justice Department acknowledged the role of the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office in falsely claiming people arrested at a protest were members of a criminal street gang, it found the county attorney’s degree of involvement in the constitutional violations it identified was beyond the scope of its review.
County Attorney Rachel Mitchell did not immediately return a request for comment on the DOJ’s findings Thursday afternoon.
— Jimmy Jenkins
The findings:Read the Justice Department report on Phoenix and its Police Department

[size=32]DOJ: Phoenix police trained to use force when there's no legal reason[/size]

The report acknowledged that Phoenix's interim chief of police, Michael Sullivan, made reform efforts when he stepped into the role, including changing policies on training and use of force. The report quoted Sullivan as telling Justice Department investigators, “I saw some uses of force that made me think that we need to do something different.”
The report noted a Phoenix police plan to use data to strategize crime control. The department also had a plan to understand how enforcement affects various populations. The report quoted Sullivan as saying he wanted the department to become a “self-assessing, self-correcting agency.”
The report said that the “problematic practices” it saw began with department training.
That training, the report said, “explicitly encouraged officers to use force when there is no legal justification to do so.”
That training, as reviewed and witnessed by Justice Department investigators, directed officers to use force to ward off hypothetical danger, rather than actual danger. “Innocents can pop up out of nowhere,” the report says, quoting an unspecified training lesson.
Phoenix officers are training to fire Taser guns and projectiles at people having behavioral health crises if they don’t comply with commands. “The mindset that a theoretically possible future threat ... justifies immediate force violates the Fourth Amendment," the report states
Officer training encourages officers to use force immediately upon arriving at a scene. One training said that starting an interaction with a step like “talking nice” could “get someone killed."
At a news conference, an assistant attorney general, Kristen Clarke, acknowledged there have been changes at the department. But, Clarke said Thursday, that “reforms exist on paper, not in practice.”
— Richard Ruelas
Justice Department Finds Civil Rights Violations by Phoenix Police Department and City of Phoenix 72642733007-pni-1-brd-08302020-republic-1-a-00120200829-img-pni-force-cover-cp-1-1-r-6-r-4-oaam-l-1522866329-img-pni-force-cover-cp-1-1-r-6-r-4-oaam




[size=32]DOJ official: Louisville, Minneapolis negotiations have been successful[/size]

Officials with the Department of Justice said Thursday that they are “hopeful” they can begin to work on creating a list of reforms with Phoenix leaders.
Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke cited consent decrees in Louisville and Minneapolis as examples of successful negotiations. She said officials are approaching the matter with “great urgency” and hope to “earnestly and swiftly” move toward “mutually acceptable” reforms.
“We are indeed on a very productive path in Louisville and Minneapolis. ... We’re very hopeful that we’ll have similar success in Phoenix,” she said.
Clarke said the Phoenix Police Department has made efforts to institute preliminary reforms, but that they are “not enough to address the full scope of our findings.” She said federal officials will “continue to engage” with the city.
— Sasha Hupka


[size=32]DOJ to hold virtual community meeting Thursday evening[/size]

Department of Justice officials say they will meet with Phoenix residents at 6 p.m. on Thursday to explain their findings on the city’s Police Department and answer questions.
The virtual community meeting comes after the agency released the results of a yearslong investigation on Thursday morning. Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke said the findings were “severe” and reflected “systemic problems” within the city’s police force.
Federal officials said residents could submit recommendations for solutions by email at phoenix.community@usdoj.gov or by phone at 866-432-0335. The meeting will be held virtually via Zoom.
— Sasha Hupka

[size=32]Phoenix mayor says city got DOJ report at same time as public[/size]

Shortly after the Justice Department ended its virtual news conference, Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego released a statement saying Phoenix received the findings report "at the same time as the public."
The Justice Department did provide an oral briefing about the report to city officials on Tuesday, according to a news release. Elsewhere, the department has provided an advance copy of its findings to city officials but on the condition that the city would agree to work with the department toward reform. Phoenix officials were unwilling to sign such an agreement.
The City Council will meet in a private session on June 25 "to receive legal advice, better understand the report, and discuss next steps," Gallego said.
She said she was reserving further comment until after she had "carefully and thoroughly" reviewed the findings.
— Taylor Seely and Catherine Reagor

Justice Department Finds Civil Rights Violations by Phoenix Police Department and City of Phoenix 726eb7bf-78a4-47b3-9a76-8c8aa942e114-6d7eb927-eed9-4c7c-8d07-e1d668426115_thumbnail





[size=32]DOJ says problems with Phoenix police are 'systemic', 'longstanding'[/size]

Department of Justice officials said Thursday that their report is not focused on any single incident.
Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke called the findings evidence of “systemic problems” that reflect “longstanding dysfunction” at the Phoenix Police Department.
“The problems at their core reflect a lack of effective supervision, training and accountability,” she said.
—Sasha Hupka

[size=32]DOJ: Phoenix police have 'use it or lose it' gun policy[/size]

Officers with the Phoenix Police Department routinely delayed medical aid and deployed deadly force in their policing, Department of Justice officials said Thursday.Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke said the department had a “use it or lose it” policy in which it would take away weapons from officers if they weren’t fired often enough. She described an incident in which officers shot a man and he fell. The officers then fired additional rounds and sent a K-9 unit to drag the man back to them.
“The pain they inflicted was extraordinary, but for nine minutes, officers failed to provide medical aid,” Clarke said. “Tragically, that man died.”
— Sasha Hupka

[size=32]DOJ finds Phoenix police violated rights of people of color, protesters[/size]

The Department of Justice found that both the Phoenix Police Department and the city engaged in ]“a pattern” of using unlawful force, disproportionately targeted people of color and routinely violated the rights of protesters, people experiencing behavioral health issues and unhoused people.
Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke said it is the first time the agency has ever found a violation of the rights of homeless people. About 37% of the department’s misdemeanor offenses were against unhoused individuals, she said.
Clarke called that “unlawful” and said it conveys “a lack of respect for the humanity” of the homeless.
U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, in a statement, said his department has cause to believe the Phoenix Police Department engages in a pattern or practice of conduct "that deprives its residents and visitors, including Black, Hispanic, and Native American people, of their rights under the Constitution and federal law."
“The release of today’s findings report is an important step toward accountability and transparency, and we are committed to working with the City of Phoenix and Phoenix Police Department on meaningful reform that protects the civil rights and safety of Phoenix residents and strengthens police-community trust," Garland said.
— Sasha Hupka

[size=32]8 fatal police shootings in Phoenix so far in 2024[/size]

There have been eight fatal police shootings by the Phoenix police so far this year. All have involved people who were armed, according to the department.
Phoenix historically has had among the highest rates of police shootings in Arizona and has been among the deadliest forces in the country.
In 2018, police in Phoenix shot at more people than police in any other U.S. city. Out of the 44 shootings, 23 ended in death. From 2013 to 2023, Phoenix police were involved in 142 fatal shootings, second only to the Los Angeles Police Department, according to the Mapping Police Violence project.
Gun-involved crime continues to be a central concern of the department. On Tuesday, the department released its latest crime reduction plan, which has a performance goal of reducing the "violent crime rate and incidents involving guns by removing the most active crime guns from use in criminal activity."
— Miguel Torres
Justice Department Finds Civil Rights Violations by Phoenix Police Department and City of Phoenix 636390612170262131-uscpcent02-6wd5n2fk8zm1hl9ysbwo-original




[size=32]What happened after the DOJ investigation in Louisville?[/size]

The Louisville Metro Police Department and the city government will soon be placed under a consent decree, the duration of which depends on the city's performance and improvement but could last several years.
The binding legal settlement will track the steps local agencies must take to improve, with progress reported to the federal government by an independent monitor.
The DOJ revealed its investigative report into the Louisville police  in 2023, finding reasonable cause to believe city government and the department "engage in a pattern or practice of conduct that deprives people of their rights under the Constitution and federal law."
What were the main seven findings of the DOJ report into Louisville police?
  • Louisville police use excessive force.

  • Louisville police conduct searches based on invalid warrants, and the department executes search warrants without knocking and announcing.

  • Louisville police street enforcement violates the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures.

  • Louisville police discriminate against Black people in traffic stops.

  • Louisville police violate free speech with respect to peaceful protests.

  • Louisville police and Louisville Metro Government violate the Americans with Disabilities Act with regard to behavioral health disabilities.


— Louisville Courier-Journal

[size=32]DOJ investigations into Phoenix, Louisville share similarities[/size]

The Arizona Republic and the Louisville Courier-Journal reported in 2021 on similar allegations against police in both cities.
A Department of Justice investigation into police practices in Louisville began four months before the Phoenix investigation. It launched soon after the killing of Breonna Taylor in her apartment hallway but also looked into other pivotal cases involving traffic stops, search warrants and use of force.
The Louisville department for years "practiced an aggressive style of policing that it deploys selectively, especially against Black people, but also against vulnerable people throughout the city," U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said during a March 2023 news conference in the city as he released a blistering report. "LMPD cites people for minor offenses, like wide turns and broken taillights, while serious crimes like sexual assault and homicide go unsolved.”
— Louisville Courier-Journal

[size=32]Phoenix leader says DOJ has not been transparent[/size]

Phoenix Councilmember Ann O’Brien early Thursday stressed her desire for a resolution to the DOJ investigation that would not demand costly federal oversight from a judge or court monitor.Months ago, city officials formally asked the Justice Department to provide recommendations for improvement but allow the Phoenix Police Department to reform itself. Seven jurisdictions have tried — unsuccessfully, in the end — to resist agreements for reform, according to a 2017 report from the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division.
She emphasized the city’s commitment to transparency throughout the process and said it was not returned by federal officials. O'Brien's chief of staff, Derrik Rockwalik, confirmed that her office had not received a findings report or a summary.
“While we remained transparent, they were not willing to reciprocate,” O'Brien said.
— Taylor Seely

[size=32]Department of Justice to hold news conference[/size]

The Department of Justice will hold a virtual news conference at 10 a.m. Thursday regarding a civil rights matter related to Phoenix.
The federal agency is expected to reveal what it has learned in its yearslong investigation of the Phoenix Police Department. Findings could lead to a court order binding the city to the Justice Department for years to come.
Since the investigation began in 2021, the city has handed over roughly 180,000 documents, more than 22,000 body-worn camera videos, 20 terabytes of data and 200 emergency 911 calls to the feds. As of February, federal officials conducted more than 130 interviews with city employees and participated in 200 hours' worth of Phoenix police ride-alongs.
Meanwhile, city leaders have long expressed frustration over the investigation. In January, they formally asked the Justice Department if they could reform the police force on their own — taking federal recommendations into account but not tethering the city to costly oversight from a judge or independent monitor.
— Sasha Hupka
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