Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams plans talks with officers, residents
PHOENIX – Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams said the majority of her officers were professional but acknowledged that viral videos of an officer leg swiping a handcuffed suspect has done more damage to her department.
“I want us to get to the truth,” Williams told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News on Monday.
Last week, police responding to a report of shoplifting from a discount store near 36th Street and McDowell Road drew weapons on a woman and two small children sitting in a parked SUV.
Another officer handcuffed the driver, Dravon Ames, then kicked his leg out from underneath him.
The family filed a $10 million claim against the city.
“There are 2,900 other officers who are out there who maintain professionalism all the time,” Williams said.
“We are a professional agency, we are accountable,” Williams said. An internal investigation is underway.
She mentioned a training module and briefings to remind officers of de-escalation techniques.
Williams planned to meet with officers to talk about behavior in those types of situations.
The department, which has come under review for a record number of officer-involved shootings in 2018, also will step up implementing body-worn cameras.
Maryvale and Mountain View precincts already have outfitted officers with the cameras. South Mountain precinct will join the fold Monday.
By August, all precincts will be equipped with the cameras.
“I’m getting emails, phone calls, letters, threats, from this. People don’t feel safe,” Williams said.
Williams said there were some in the community who believed she should resign.
“That is the sentiment. … (but) if someone can fix it, I am the person,” she said.
“I am confident that we, as a community, can work through this.”
Mayor Kate Gallego expressed her support for Williams on Friday on Arizona’s Morning News.
“We’ve had several incidents that require leadership on her part. She has reacted swiftly and appropriately,” Gallego said.
The mayor tweeted out an apology to the family, saying, “This is not who we are, and I refuse to allow this type of behavior to go unchallenged.”
A public meeting about the incident was scheduled Tuesday at Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church at 6 p.m.
The church is near 14th and Jefferson streets.