Police officers in Phoenix, Arizona are now required to document every time they point a gun at someone.
Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams announced during a news conference on August 19 that officers now will need to file a report for all instances when they point a gun at an individual. The form and the incident will be reviewed by a city supervisor.
“When a gun is pointed at someone, that’s a traumatic event,” Williams said during the press conference. “I think this is a first step in being… that accountable, transparent organization that is willing to share what we do and how we do it.”
The new rule comes after an internal review and upon recommendations from a National Police Foundation (NPF) study, USA Today reported. The investigation by NPF was conducted after the city asked it to look into the rise of officer-involved shootings in Phoenix in 2018. The NPF found that there were 44 reported officer-involved shootings last year, compared to the yearly average of 21 from 2009 to 2017.
“We took the bull by the horns and we really jumped all in with our community to show our transparency, to show our accountability — to show the fact that we are a part of the community,” Williams told reporters.
Williams and Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego also announced that more than 1,700 police officers have received body cameras and all patrol officers will undergo an eight-hour training program, where they will learn how to better assist people who are having a mental health crisis, USA Today reported.
“Our community has… said that they want our police department to collect more data around the work they are doing in the field,” Gallego said during the press conference. “We know that what you measure is what you focus on.”
Phoenix is not the only city undergoing changes in their police departments. Other cities like Dallas, Cleveland, Baltimore, Chicago and New Orleans have also implemented similar rules.
In June, Phoenix police were the focus of criticism after an incident where an officer pulled out a gun on a family at a local Dollar Store after a four-year-old girl stole a doll. In a viral video posted to Occupy Democrats, police officers can be seen yelling at the suspects and cursing at them.
While one officer is detaining the male suspect, a woman in the video, who is Black, is seen speaking to another officer telling him she cannot put her baby down because the concrete surface of the parking lot is too hot for the child. Another officer then approaches them and begins cursing at her.
“When I tell you to [expletive] put your hands up, you put your [expletive] hands up,” the officer can be heard saying to the woman, who is holding her child.
The parents, who have been identified as Dravon Ames and Iesha Harper, previously said during a press conference they did not know their daughter had taken the doll from the store.
“It was very terrifying for me and my children. My daughter is terrified to this day of the police. She wakes up in the middle of the night crying,” Harper previously said during the press conference.
“With all this going on, I still have to see the video. It breaks my heart every time I see the video. I don’t like watching it. It shouldn’t have happened over a baby doll.”
Ames said since the incident, he has also been having trouble sleeping at night because he just “keeps flashing back to a barrel being pointed at my face.”
In a previous statement the Phoenix Police Department said they became aware of the video, which was taken by a bystander, on June 11 and said the officers in the video displayed “extremely offensive and unprofessional language and actions by officers during the arrests.” Williams said in a statement at the time that the officers involved were placed on desk duty while the incident was under investigation.
“I, like you, am disturbed by the language and the actions of our officers. I assure you that this incident is not representative of the majority of Phoenix police officers who serve this city,” Williams said at the time.
About the Author
Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in the various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.