Phoenix police chief looks to internal fixes to address shootings
PHOENIX — The police department of Arizona’s largest city has been under a microscope this year after officer-involved shootings in the city reached unprecedented numbers.
But Chief Jeri Williams insisted that the department will continue to update its training protocols in an effort to reduce and prevent those incidents.
“We haven’t just been sitting by waiting and letting 41 (shootings) happen,” Williams told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Bruce St. James and Pamela Hughes on Wednesday.
“We’ve made some adjustments in our training to include some of the very scenarios that our officers are facing, that they’ve been in. We’ve increased our crisis intervention team training. We’ve been working with our community to increase active shooter training.”
Phoenix police have been involved in 41 officer-involved shootings as of Nov. 29. There were just 21 of those shootings in all of 2017. The previous record high was in 2013, when officer-involved shootings in Phoenix reached 33.
Williams said the department also commissioned an outside study on the number of officer-involved shootings in May. The study is expected to be complete in February.
Williams said officials want to learn from each of those shootings to evolve to the different situations its officers will be placed in.
“We constantly teach and train deescalation processes,” she said, adding that the department has also implemented mental health training and body-worn cameras.
But Williams conceded that she can not say for certain whether these new training procedures have led to a downward trend of shootings in the second half of the year.
“We were trending really high and really fast at the beginning of the year then we made some changes and it appears to be trending down,” Williams said.
“But…the employees and my officers, when they go on scene, they are reacting to the threats posed to them. So while I can train my officers all day, I can’t necessarily gauge the reactions of the individuals who are becoming violent toward officers, violent toward our community members,” she added.
“So to say we’ve seen officer-involved shootings go down because of the trainings, I’m not certain of that.”