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Phoenix police chief sees room for improvement after Trump rally

Protesters raise their hands after Phoenix police used tear gas outside the Phoenix Convention Center, Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017, in Phoenix. Protests were held against President Trump as he hosted a rally inside the convention center. (AP Photo/Matt York)

PHOENIX — After praising her officers’ conduct again, Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams said Monday that there was some lessons to be learned from last year’s downtown protest of President Donald Trump.

“The Aug. 22 presidential visit to Phoenix included extraordinary circumstances with recent profound national events,” she wrote in a letter to City Manager Ed Zuercher.

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The letter mentioned several national protests, including one in Charlottesville, Virginia, that left one person dead.

Williams said her officers — along with employees of other agencies — worked well to protect the thousands of people who poured into the downtown area, along with the president and other dignitaries.

She also praised the low number of reported injuries and property damage.

However, Williams said her department must work harder both before and during protests to inform people of what they can do and what may result in them wearing handcuffs.

“Some of the criticism about the police department’s response was focused on differences in communication, particularly providing clear, audible and consistent directions to the crowd,” she wrote.

She said that effort would be a combination of meeting with community leaders and a larger push on social media.

Williams said that officers should use more loudspeakers to inform crowds of when it’s time to leave and will also offer instructions to people directions on where they should go when clearing an area.

The chief also said she would like to see improved reporting of the tools used during the protest — including crowd control devices.

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