Phoenix City Council passes creation of police oversight office

May 19, 2021, 5:31 PM | Updated: May 20, 2021, 8:50 am

PHOENIX — The Phoenix City Council on Wednesday approved the creation of a police oversight office by a vote of 5-4.

The passage comes after the council rejected the ordinance to create the office by a vote of 5-4 in November of last year, which halted more than a year of progress by supporters.

Public comment for the item lasted around an hour, with a majority speaking in favor of the creation of the office.

“The testimonies we heard today from families impacted by police violence is exactly why we need this office,” Vice Mayor Carlos Garcia, who led the effort to increase police oversight and voted yes on the item, said in a statement after the vote. “I am grateful for the community members who have long advocated for this change at the city.

“The work continues and I hope you will continue to engage our office and the city in the implementation of this office.”

The ordinance says the role of the office – known as the Office of Accountability and Transparency – will be to monitor or investigate members of the Phoenix Police Department, provide recommendations for training, policy and disciplinary actions as well as ensure complaints against officers are handled fairly and objectively, including a thorough and fair investigation.

Staff of the office will also monitor or investigate use of force, in-custody deaths, and other community complaints before making recommendations on whether the investigation was sufficient and suggest any discipline or needed policy changes.

Former law enforcement or a family member of a law enforcement member are not allowed to serve as part of the staff, and there will be community involvement in the hiring process.

The Phoenix Police Department having a record number of officer-involved shootings in 2018 and multiple lawsuits over alleged misconduct bringing about costly settlements resulted in an increased effort to create the oversight office.

Councilmembers Laura Pastor, Betty Guardado and Yassamin Ansari and Mayor Kate Gallego joined Garcia in voting yes on the plan.

“Today will allow us to have more accountability and transparency and a stronger, safer city,” Gallego said. “The city of Phoenix was the largest city without civilian oversight, today that has changed.”

Councilmembers Ann O’Brien, Jim Waring, Debra Stark and Sal DiCiccio voted no on the measure.

O’Brien said her office received over 100 phone calls and emails from residents of her district who were opposed of the office and the ordinance, saying they felt it demeaned the police department’s service to the community and is part of the “defund the police narrative.”

Waring thought the $3 million for the office could be better deployed filling the gaps in the ranks of Phoenix officers.

“While we may have budgeted 3,100 and change officers, we only really have 2,800 because they are quitting faster than we can recruit them,” Waring said. “The bottom line is when we are down to 2,500 officers or a number like that, you will miss those that are gone.”

DiCiccio, one of the plan’s most vocal opponents, said the vote was not about acting for accountability or transparency but “handing over unlimited power to hate groups.”

“​What Phoenix did today, was approve the most radical, extremist, and anti-police plan in the entire country,” DiCiccio said in an email statement. “The defund the police movement is the real deal here in Phoenix. The vast majority of the community supports the police versus this small group of 100 people.

“These radical anti-police protesters will not stop until they have destroyed the foundations of law and order in our city.”

The City Council held its first work-study to discuss the possible adoption of civilian police oversight in September 2019.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

The auction will feature more than 1,300 professionally appraised lots. (Sierra Auction Photos)...

David Veenstra

Arizona Department of Revenue to auction off unclaimed property

The Arizona Department of Revenue is auctioning off unclaimed property from abandoned safe deposit boxes this week.

16 minutes ago

Shopping center developer Macerich withdrew its proposal with the city of Phoenix's planning hearin...

Macerich pumps brakes on proposal for new Biltmore office tower

Prominent shopping center owner and developer Macerich Co. is delaying its plans for a new Class A office building.

1 hour ago

Persian New Year Festival...

Annual Persian New Year Festival adds fashion show, musical performance to schedule

This year's version of the Persian New Year Festival will feature three events over four days starting Feb. 28 in Scottsdale.

12 hours ago

42-year-old Joseph D. Eschief (left), 27-year-old Antonio N. Eschief and 46-year-old Selena Dewey. ...

4 people stabbed during early-morning melee at Scottsdale bar

A suspect is in custody after four people were stabbed early Saturday during a violent altercation at a bar in Scottsdale.

12 hours ago

Phoenix Fire...

Occupant dead after vehicular crash leads to flames in Phoenix

One person died and two others suffered non-life-threatening injuries after a vehicle crash sparked a fire in Phoenix, authorities said. 

12 hours ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump hugs and kisses the American flag a...

Associated Press

Trump calls himself a ‘proud political dissident’ in CPAC speech

In a CPAC speech, Trump painted an apocalyptic vision of the future if President Joe Biden wins again as the two prepare for a rematch.

14 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.


Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Valley residents should be mindful of plumbing ahead of holidays

With Halloween in the rear-view and more holidays coming up, Day & Night recommends that Valley residents prepare accordingly.


Sanderson Ford

The best ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day and give back to the community

Veterans Day is fast approaching and there's no better way to support our veterans than to donate to the Military Assistance Mission.

Phoenix City Council passes creation of police oversight office