Phoenix Police use of force policy revised after internal, public review

Dec 28, 2023, 9:30 AM | Updated: 12:40 pm

PHOENIX — The Phoenix Police Department announced Wednesday some portions of its updated use of force policy will go into effect early next year.

The department, which is still under investigation by the Department of Justice over potential civil rights violations and abuses of power, released a partial draft proposal in January.

An updated version was released in May. On both occasions, Phoenix Police sought feedback from the public in order to update the policy, which saw 44 substantive changes.

The DOJ’s investigation, which is in its final stages, was to include a review of the police department’s use of force practices.

“We spent a whole lot of time reaching out to folks out in the community and within the department,” Interim Phoenix Police Chief Michael Sullivan said in a statement.

“One of the first things I did when I arrived here last year was make sure we took a look at our use of force policy. It’s the basis of building trust with the community.”

As a result, the Phoenix PD Training Bureau developed a 20-hour training program for all sworn employees.

The new program, which employees take over the course of two days, will begin in early 2024. The new policy won’t take effect until all officers are trained.

“This new era of transparency, in my opinion, is a game-changer,” Black Chamber of Arizona CEO Robin Reed said. “I know we’re headed in the right direction in that we are trying to make sure that the current paradigm for use of force is in line with the world we currently live in.”

How was Phoenix Police’s updated use of force policy crafted?

The community-based policy approach started with Sullivan, who took office in late 2022.

After all the feedback, the police department crafted a revised policy. Some of the biggest changes are:

  • It clearly defines core principles, terms and responsibilities before, during and after using force.
  • It says the criteria for using force must involve a decision-making process that meets a “reasonable, necessary and proportional” threshold.
  • It clearly outlines the protocol for reporting uses of force, which gives employees clear guidance on what their duties are after a use of force incident.

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Phoenix Police use of force policy revised after internal, public review