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Mayor says she supports Phoenix police chief amid controversy

(KTAR News Photo/Jeremy Foster)

PHOENIX — The mayor of Phoenix says she supports the city’s head of police amid controversy over the way recent use-of-force cases have been handled.

“I do support our chief. We’ve had several incidents that require leadership on her part. She has reacted swiftly and appropriately,” Mayor Kate Gallego told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News on Friday.

A community activist called for Chief Jeri Williams to step down this week over an incident where officers threatened to shoot members of a family.

The family accused Phoenix police of battery, unlawful imprisonment and false arrest among other charges and announced Thursday that they are seeking $10 million from the city.

Also on Thursday, a Phoenix police officer accused of punching and kneeing a suspect in a store pleaded not guilty to assault charges.

Last week, Williams called for an investigation after a database of current and former officers’ social media posts was published, revealing posts mocking minority groups and violence against civilians.

Gallego said she doesn’t want to comment on any specific cases before they are fully investigated.

“To me, it’s important that we’re able to have a full investigation, that we have all of the facts before we judge anything,” she said.

“I do know that we’ve had incidents in this community where we’ve used more force than we needed to, and that’s why we’re really looking at our training, why we’re looking at how we deliver service.”

The department has been making an effort to implement new policies after it recorded a record high number of officer-involved shootings last year.

Gallego said Williams is working to emphasize de-escalation tactics, starting with its new recruits.

“Our police chief has recently rethought the way we train our officers, which is very important to me and something I strongly support,” she said.

“We had been doing military-style training, and now we’re really focused on scenario-based training and how can we de-escalate, how can we make sure that everyone goes home safely?”

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