PLEA president expects Phoenix Police DOJ probe to hurt recruiting efforts
PHOENIX — The president of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association expects recruiting efforts for Phoenix Police to be hurt by the Department of Justice’s investigation over potential civil rights violations and abuses of power.
Britt London said regardless of the outcome of the investigation, the perception of the department and morale within it will be damaged.
Phoenix Police employs about 2,800 officers, down from about 3,500 a decade ago, according to London.
“Our numbers are already suffering, but add on top of that the optics or the way the officers may perceive the Department of Justice coming in and conducting an investigation and that’s just going to add to the people that are leaving,” London told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show on Monday.
London is worried that for officers who are considering leaving, the investigation could be the final straw to jump ship, whether that be to a different department or out of the profession.
“I think that some people here are just looking for that last reason to leave,” London said. “This certainly won’t help anything and it won’t help the department in recruiting.
“You can look at the departments around the Valley and go, ‘Hey, they don’t have the DOJ investigating them, maybe I’ll go over there.’ So yeah, it’s a big concern.”
London said it “remains to be seen” how he will feel about the investigation, which Chief Jeri Williams said last week would likely take more than a year.
The DOJ’s Civil Rights Division will review the police department’s use-of-force practices as part of the probe. It will also look for patterns of retaliation over activity protected under the First Amendment and discrimination against people with disabilities or who are homeless.
The DOJ reviewed media reports, court files and citizen complaints before deciding to move forward with the Phoenix probe.
“This is something that we haven’t gone through before, of course,” London said. “So, you know, the first thing we did was start reaching out to our friends that have had to deal with the DOJ and quite honestly, no one had anything really good to say about it.
“So it’s definitely going to be something very different for Phoenix officers.”