ARIZONA NEWS

New survey shows many Phoenix police officers would consider leaving if DOJ takes over

Jul 3, 2024, 11:21 AM

DOJ consent decree could hurt retention of Phoenix Police officers...

A new survey from the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association suggests DOJ oversight would hurt officer retention rates. (City of Phoenix file photo)

(City of Phoenix file photo)

PHOENIX — Federal oversight could tank officer retention in the Phoenix Police Department, according to a survey released Wednesday.

The Phoenix Law Enforcement Association’s survey of 1,186 Phoenix Police officers found that 56% were considering leaving in the next three to six months.

However, respondents changed their minds when asked if they’d still leave if Phoenix PD and city officials resisted a consent decree with the Department of Justice.

In fact, almost 90% of respondents said they’d stay if authorities refused to enter into any type of federal agreement with the DOJ, which released a report of civil rights violations in June.

What did the DOJ’s investigation into the Phoenix Police find?

The report found Phoenix Police regularly used excessive force, targeted people of color, violated protestors’ rights and discriminated against people with behavioral health disabilities.

Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Kristen Clarke said the police department and city also violated the Constitution’s first, fourth and 14th amendments.

Additionally, this was the first time the DOJ found a pattern against people experiencing homelessness — and the second time when Native Americans were targeted, Clarke said.

PLEA President Darrell Kriplean said the DOJ’s report was already having a negative impact on officer retention.

He said the DOJ has a 30-year track record of failure during during a Wednesday interview with KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show.

Essentially, he thinks the DOJ is incapable of holding Phoenix Police accountable for rights violations.

“We should be beholden to our community members and our city council folks that the community elects to oversee our department,” Kriplean said.

He said the Phoenix PD is a self-assessing and self-correcting agency.

How would a DOJ consent decree impact Phoenix Police Department?

Police have long expressed their discontent with the idea of a consent decree with the DOJ.

In January, the Phoenix PD released a 53-page report detailing its commitment to reform.

That report came with a a four-page letter accusing the DOJ of using an ineffective one-size-fits-all approach to police reform.

“Our officers are smart. They see what happens in other communities with the DOJ,” Kriplean said. “This is a depolicing maneuver, essentially, because officers are afraid that they won’t be able to do their jobs and serve the community.”

DOJ oversight comes with a fear of prosecution as well as burdensome paperwork, he added.

Kriplean also critiques the DOJ’s claims that its oversight is effective due to drops in use of force incidences in cities it oversees. He said the data was misleading. The cities aren’t safer; it’s just that police officers have disengaged, he said.

“They’re not out there arresting people because, at any given moment, if someone complains at the handcuffs were too tight, they’re now being pulled into an internal affairs investigation,” Kriplean said. “That’s why violent crime spikes.”

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New survey shows many Phoenix police officers would consider leaving if DOJ takes over