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Tentative contract would reform Phoenix police policies to build trust

PHOENIX – A preliminary agreement has been reached between the city of Phoenix and the union representing Phoenix police officers on a contract that would reform current policies in hopes of building trust between police and the community.

The tentative contract includes several reforms to current policies and is expected to be presented for approval during the Wednesday city council meeting.

“This responds to what we have heard from the community regarding concerns and desires for greater transparency and accountability,” Lori Bays, city of Phoenix human resources director, told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Monday, describing the agreement as a “much-improved contract.”

If approved, the contract would include a sweeping list of changes:

  • Removal of language warning a citizen about possible criminal charges if they file a false complaint against a police officer. The language has the effect of potentially discouraging residents from alerting the city about police officer conduct.
  • The chief of police would have the discretion to take immediate action setting a pre-termination meeting for an officer involved in a job-related felony crime. The new contract eliminates any waiting period, allowing the chief to take swift and decisive disciplinary action as appropriate for the situation.
  • Clarifies language that explicitly allows non-police city of Phoenix investigators, such as a civilian oversight committee, to investigate officers.
  • Vacation time will no longer be allowed to be used by employees in lieu of a suspension.
  • Removes language that provides police employees identified as a witness in a case the ability to meet with the union prior to an interview with investigators.
  • Update current language on purging/inactivating files to accurately reflect that the official Human Resources file is not purged.
  • The union will no longer have a representative on the grievance committee when an officer files a grievance. Instead, a representative from another union will join two management representatives on the committee to ensure an impartial review.

The new contract also outlines 10 categories of past discipline which cannot be removed from consideration as supervisors assign progressive discipline, transfers and promotions.

Discipline related to these categories will remain available for consideration for the full length of an employee’s career:

  • Abusive or threatening attitude, language, or conduct toward fellow employees
  • Accepting fees or gifts which would lead toward favoritism or the appearance of favoritism or a conflict of interest
  • Intentionally falsifying records or documents
  • Stealing
  • Alcohol or illegal drug use on the job
  • Violation of city anti-harassment or anti-discrimination policies
  • City ethics policy violations
  • Dishonesty
  • Felony crime
  • Class 3 violation of use of force

The city of Phoenix confirmed they approached the union, known as the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association (PLEA), regarding the new contract.

PLEA did not respond to KTAR News 92.3 FM’s request for comment.

If approved, the contract would take effect July 1.

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