The City Council meeting held on February 24th was proof that Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego and the majority of the Phoenix City Council do not have the best interests of Phoenix Police Officers in mind based on their 5-4 vote to implement City Council Member Carlos Garcia’s “Plan B” of civilian oversight of the Phoenix Police Department.
The talk of independent civilian oversight has reared its ugly head over the course of the past few years largely due to anti police and anti-rule of law activist groups including Living United for Change in Arizona, LUCHA, Black Lives Matter, Puente, Poder in Action, and the American Civil Liberties Union, which have continued to promote the myth of “Hands up, don’t shoot!” that came in the aftermath of the 2014 incident in Ferguson, Missouri involving Michael Brown, who was shot and killed when he attacked a police officer after Brown committed a strong-armed robbery of a convenience market.
Ultimately, a United States Department of Justice investigation into the incident under the Obama Administration overseen by then-United States Attorney General Eric Holder, completely exonerated former Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson of any wrongdoing and tore apart the false narrative of what occurred with eyewitness testimony and forensic evidence from the crime scene investigation. Yet, nearly six years later, the myths of Ferguson and other high profile incidents like Eric Garner are being used to further this agenda against men and women from all across the country who put their lives on the line every day to protect and serve the communities they are a part of.
PLEA has been accused by Poder in Action of being a “Racist union” which defends bad cops, it, but like much of what they say, it is a blatant lie. PLEA isn’t the six full-time release board members assigned to the PLEA Office, the other five trustees or 22 reps who work in various assignments throughout the Phoenix Police Department. PLEA is the over 2254 rank and file Phoenix Police Officers and Detectives who not only serve our community but are as diverse as our community. While many of our members are transplants from other states, we have large number of members who were born and raised in Arizona, including many of the same neighborhoods in Phoenix our critics reside in, and we have other members born in other countries who speak English as a second language and now call the United States their home.
Based on the number of filled seats PLEA saw during meetings held last year at Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church, the Orpheum Theatre, and the City Council meetings held in the wake of last May’s “Shoplifting Incident”, we came up with a rough estimate that attendees speaking out against the Phoenix Police Department accounted for .25% of the total population of the city. Tuesday’s group had at least 75 people in attendance and many of them put in cards to speak during public comment. If every one of them had taken the time to speak, that would translate to 0.0045% of our population, which influenced the Council’s decision to implement this plan of civilian oversight.
As we have seen in the past, these particular activists rely on emotion and buzzwords instead of hard facts to convey their message and further their cause. The words “Police violence” “murderers” and “our community is hurting” are frequently mixed in with theatrics to portray Phoenix Police Officers as the ill affecting their community. Interestingly enough, we never hear them speak about the violence committed by members of their own community which led to the police having to respond. Some of these communities have high crime rates and suffer from crimes including domestic violence, crimes against children like child abuse, child molesting, and sexual conduct with a minor, shootings, stabbings, armed robberies, homicides and fatal hit and run collisions involving pedestrians. Why is it they never speak of holding suspects committing crimes in their communities accountable for their actions?
PLEA believes a lack of knowledge, ignorance of, and refusal to accept the laws regarding police officers use of force and deadly force contributes to the false narrative. Police officers are authorized under Arizona laws to use of force, up to and including deadly force in the performance of their duties. Use of force and deadly force by police officers in Arizona is covered under Arizona Revised Statutes 13-409 and 13-410 and Phoenix Police Department policy mirrors those statutes as well as case law established by the United States Supreme Court under Tennessee v Garner and Graham v Connor, which are considered cornerstones in police use of force cases. While using force on another human being never looks good and may appear to be “violent” to someone who has never been in a physical confrontation, police officers must be able to match and exceed the force being used by a suspect resisting arrest to take them into custody. Deadly force is always a last resort, however in certain instances officers are forced to make a split-second decision to protect the life of a third party or themselves. The National Police Foundation conducted the $149,000 study into the 44 officer-involved shootings which occurred in 2018 and was unable to isolate a specific factor which contributed to those shootings. A key takeaway from those officer involved shootings is they were all legally justified uses of deadly force and no Phoenix Police Officers were charged or indicted for second degree murder under ARS 13-1104.A.1. Justified use of lethal force resulting in death is not “murder” and the fact remains the involved officer has to live with that decision for the rest of their life, which has resulted in emotional and mental scars that have sadly led some officers to take their own lives.
The term “rapist” has recently become part of the activist’s diatribe. PLEA collectively represents over 2250 rank and file Phoenix Police Officers and is actively involved in the discipline and grievance process for most of them. We are not aware of any officers who have been arrested and charged with sexual abuse under ARS 13-1404 or sexual assault (the legal term for rape) under ARS 13-1404, however, one officer conducted an improper search and was disciplined for violating our search policy.
It is interesting to note there were people who spoke in favor of “Plan B” who clearly stated they did not live in Phoenix but talked about their experiences or friends’/family members’ experiences with police officers from other police departments. How is this even allowed and why should their comments even be considered? This would be the same as a New York City resident calling their mayor to complain about an incident involving a friend or family member who had contact with the police in Dallas, Texas they didn’t believe was positive.
While we know Council Member Carlos Garcia is anti-police and we predicted how Council Member Laura Pastor and Vice Mayor Betty Guardado would vote, although Mayor Gallego claimed she supports the men and women of the Phoenix Police Department, It was clear to us she did a complete 180 degree turn from her original proposal of “Plan A” which would be the “Auditor Model” because she pandered to the audience. Mayor Gallego pulled a similar stunt several years ago when she was a City Council Member voting on our contract.
PLEA opposed “Plan B” and will continue to continue to oppose its formation because it is bad for the city and it is bad for our officers. PLEA will continue to monitor and provide input during the development of the Community Review Board and the Office of Accountability and Transparency. Our Executive Committee is also assessing our legal and regulatory options moving forward.
CLICK HERE to read PLEA’s official statement regarding what we believe is a very bad decision that serves nothing more than to promote the anti-police narrative pushed by a very small percentage of our community.