Phoenix police chief Jeri Williams lays out plan to address police concerns
PHOENIX — Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams on Tuesday released a five-point plan on how her department can improve in wake of recent heavy criticism brought on by the now-viral incident that showed officers aiming guns and hurling profanities at a black family.
Williams laid out the plan to the Phoenix City Council two weeks after listening to police concerns during a community meeting dominated by frustrated citizens.
“What I heard loudly and clearly was that some members of the community were tired of talk and wanted actionable steps,” Williams said.
The plan called for improved communication of job expectations for police officers, better and more modernized technology and public feedback about their job performance.
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Williams said her department has held six employee sessions in six locations in the past two weeks to discuss expectations.
Williams called the sessions “one of the most beneficial things I’ve done” in her time as police chief.
She added that she and other department leaders have met with officers over the past two weeks to discuss the incident involving Dravon Ames, Iesha Harper and their two children.
Controversial cellphone footage shows an officer with his gun pulled threatening a pregnant woman and using expletives while she is holding a baby. Another officer is seen handling a man roughly.
The incident reportedly was sparked by a 4-year-old girl taking a doll from a discount store on May 27.
On June 13, the family involved, Dravon Ames, Iesha Harper and two young children, filed a notice of claim laying out their plans to sue the city for $10 million.
Williams and Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego have previously apologized to the family for the incident.
“Unprofessional behavior reflects on everyone in the police department and there are thousands of police employees who do not deserve that perception,” Williams said.
The council also took action by approving two measures that were part of the plan.
Council members voted to look into buying software that can identify officers with problems that could affect their performance.
They also agreed to request city staff to devise a list of firms that could conduct a survey of community attitudes toward the police in Phoenix.
This was after police recently announced their intention to ramp up the amount of available body cameras for officers.
“Our goal today and always is to have both our residents and our officers return home safely each night,” Gallego said in a press release. “The city’s investment in modernized officer training, expedited body camera roll-out and a new early intervention system helps to ensure that we meet this goal.”
KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Taylor Kinnerup and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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