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Funding sought for study on rising violence in Phoenix police encounters

(Twitter Photo)

PHOENIX — A study on why the number of violent citizen-police encounters is going up in Phoenix is one step closer to reality.

During its monthly meeting Wednesday, the Phoenix Public Safety and Veterans Subcommittee agreed to ask the City Council for $150,000 for the study.

Police Chief Jeri Williams requested the study, saying the National Police Foundation would conduct it in conjunction with Arizona State University.

“The study is just to give me intel and information on the who, what, where, when, why,” Williams said. “From the point of contact to the point of stop, what is going on with the suspect prior to?”

Many attending the meeting were opposed to the study.

A good number simply stepped to the microphone, stated “Say My Name,” then recited the name of a person killed during a police encounter and the date of the incident.

Others were a bit more in-depth. Michael Ingram said he doesn’t want more numbers.

“I don’t know about (the National Police Foundation) — I’m sure most of us don’t,” he said. “And that is dangerous.

“The last thing I’m willing to listen to, as someone who does data all the time, is, ‘Well our last research study said this.'”

Another man called it “political cover.”

“We got the City Council, the mayor, the previous mayor, the chief — everyone talking out of both sides of their mouth,” said the man, who identified himself as Mr. Chapman, with no first name, on his comment card. “(Everyone is) looking for every opportunity to avoid, to obfuscate, to hide, to shirk their responsibilities of holding your officers — your members — accountable.”

Jennifer Hernandez said she couldn’t understand how the police department could find money for a study but cannot find enough for a police-violence victim fund.

“This study will not heal that trauma,” she said. “All the study is going to do is talk about data points on police killing. We don’t need your confirmations; we have the numbers, we have the information.

“We don’t have six months to wait. Phoenix PD is killing us now, and fast.”

Ken Crane, president of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, also opposes the study. He said officer-involved shootings or other violent encounters have many variables that must be studied in depth.

“Why, then, is there a need for all our the shooting investigations to be reviewed by an out-of-state entity?” Crane asked. “Our homicide investigators are considered experts in OIS (officer-involved shooting) investigations to the point that they teach other agencies how to conduct them.

“In addition to internal and criminal investigations, the PPD has a tactical-review team that rolls out to shooting scenes, to evaluate tactics that were used. (This will) determine if there are policy or training failures that need to be addressed.”

The next City Council meeting is June 20.

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