Arizona Gov. Ducey: Phoenix police doesn’t have systemic problem
PHOENIX — Despite a pair of recent multimillion-dollar legal claims and rising frustrations from citizens, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey does not believe there is a systemic problem with the Phoenix Police Department.
Ducey told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Mac & Gaydos on Monday that recent departmental issues are instead the result of bad decisions from individuals.
A $12.5 million notice of claim filed Monday alleging an illegal body cavity search was the continuation of tumultuous recent times for the department.
Last week, a community meeting with city leaders was held and there were protests at a Phoenix City Council meeting over a use of force incident involving a Valley family from May.
“I think we should hold bad actors accountable, but I think, by and large, the men and women on our police forces are great people and they put themselves in harm’s way every day to keep us safe,” Ducey said.
Ducey praised Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams for her transparency and accountability since her department came under fire earlier this month after cellphone videos showed one officer pointing his gun and yelling expletives at Iesha Harper, a pregnant woman holding a baby, and another roughly handling Dravon Ames.
Williams and Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego apologized to the family for police’s role in the incident.
Ducey said the apologies were a step in the right direction to try and repair a relationship between police and the community that he says is suffering from “an erosion of trust.”
“Of course we don’t want to see any of these incidents, but it’s incumbent on both the community and the police force in making time to make sure we get all the facts before we pass judgement,” Ducey said.
Ducey said he’s keeping a fairly hands-off approach with the developments, but has recently spoken with Williams and other law enforcement leaders about solutions that can help weed out the department’s offenders.
“I let the process play out because I know they have their own investigations, but what can we do structurally and culturally so we don’t have these kinds of situations in the future?” Ducey said. “That’s where the governor I think can add the most value.”