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Leader of Arizona police group says patrolling in pairs has downsides

The Phoenix Police Department close off a street during an investigation 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 – The leader of the Arizona Police Association sees the Phoenix Police Department’s move to patrol in pairs in response to violence against law enforcement as a temporary measure with downsides.

“Let’s say it’s a good start, but it’s really just an optical illusion in terms of officer safety,” APA executive director Joe Clure told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show on Wednesday.

Clure, whose professional organization represents more than 40 Arizona law enforcement groups, also said he doesn’t think the policy change will last more than two weeks because of staffing shortages.

“It’s … probably the appropriate thing to do, but unfortunately it’s really a Band-Aid fix and is not going to be sustainable,” he said.

On Tuesday, a federal courthouse security guard was injured in a drive-by shooting in downtown Phoenix. A suspect was taken into custody, but his identity and possible motive were not released by the FBI, which is conducting the investigation.

Afterward, Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams directed her officers to patrol in two-person units effectively immediately.

Clure didn’t oppose the policy but said it will hamper the department’s effectiveness.

“It’s definitely going to slow response times,” he said. “It’s also going to take visibility out because instead of two police cars rolling around you now have one.”

Clure also said doubling up hasn’t always proven to be effective.

“It’s a misnomer to think that two-man police cars are the epitome of safety because we have countless situations where two-man [units] have come under attack and both officers have been fatally wounded,” he said.

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 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 Oakland 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.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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