Phoenix council seeks to ease distrust over video of police
PHOENIX (AP) — The City Council moved Tuesday to ease a new surge in distrust of the police, approving two measures aimed at quelling an outcry over a videotaped encounter that showed officers aiming guns and hurling profanities at a black family.
Councilmembers voted to look into buying software that can identify officers with problems that could affect their performance. They also agreed to request city staff to devise a list of firms that could conduct a survey of community attitudes toward the police in Phoenix, the nation’s fifth largest city.
City leaders have also been discussing creation of a civilian committee to oversee the police and sped up the rollout of body-worn cameras after the video of the encounter sparked national attention when it was released last month. About 950 cameras will be in use by officers on the street by this week.
Police Chief Jeri Williams told the council she heard community members “loudly and clearly” during recent public meetings that saw many blacks and Hispanics angrily describe their own encounters with officers.
Williams, who is black, said she and other department leaders have been meeting with officers over the past two weeks to discuss the incident and make expectations clear.
The chief received applause from some members of the public when she announced she was working to streamline the release of incident reports.
Relatives of people killed in police-involved shootings in Phoenix have complained that months later they still have not received reports of what happened to their loved ones. One family reported having to file a lawsuit to get a report.
Several families of people shot by Phoenix police in recent months have spoken out since the video emerged.
A study commissioned by the city showed that Phoenix police had 44 officer-involved shootings last year, more than any other department. Of those, 23 were fatal.
The pair shown in the video, Dravon Ames, 22, his pregnant fiancee Iesha Harper, 24, have filed a $10 million claim against the city, alleging civil rights violations. The police stopped them were investigating a report of shoplifting, but no charges were filed.
They couple says their 4-year-old daughter took a doll from a store.