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Phoenix police officers to patrol in pairs due to recent shootings

Police cars close off a street outside the Sandra Day O'Connor U.S. Courthouse in Phoenix, on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020. A drive-by shooting wounded a federal court security officer Tuesday outside the courthouse in downtown Phoenix, authorities said. The officer was taken to a hospital and is expected to recover, according to city police and the FBI, which is investigating. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PHOENIX — Phoenix police officers will begin to patrol in pairs effectively immediately in response to recent shootings at law enforcement locally and nationally.

The decision was announced by Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams hours after a security guard was wounded Tuesday in a drive-by shooting outside a federal court building in downtown Phoenix.

Over the weekend, two Los Angeles County deputies were seriously wounded in an ambush. They were sitting in their parked vehicle when a man walked up to the passenger’s side and fired multiple rounds.

“In response to recent attacks on law enforcement officers and for the safety of our officers and our community, Phoenix Police Chief Williams has asked all officers to patrol as a two-person unit,” Phoenix Police Sgt. Mercedes Fortune said in an email to KTAR News 92.3 FM.

Federal courthouses have been flashpoints for recent violence, but it’s not clear who shot the officer in Phoenix or why.

In June, a federal security officer was shot and killed and his partner was wounded outside the federal courthouse in Oakland as they guarded the building during protests over racial injustice and police brutality.

An Air Force sergeant was charged with the shooting, and prosecutors say he had ties to the far-right, anti-government “boogaloo” movement and used the protest as cover for the crime and his escape.

During demonstrations in Portland, Oregon, protesters and federal officers clashed at the federal courthouse, where people set fires and tossed fireworks and rocks, while federal authorities unleashed tear gas and made arrests.

The officer involved in the Phoenix shooting was taken to the hospital with injuries that weren’t life threatening.

Some Phoenix City Council members have already offered their support for Williams’ decision.

“I stand with Chief Williams on this decision to ensure our brave officers have proper back-up,” Phoenix City Councilman Michael Nowakowski said in a statement.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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