There seems to be some confusion as to what agencies should be doing once the Department of Justice launches an investigation. Leaders across the country, including Phoenix Interim Police Chief Michael Sullivan, act like they are completely paralyzed while they “wait” for the conclusion of the DOJ Investigation.
Anyone that can read the historical nature of DOJ Investigations knows exactly what the conclusion in Phoenix will be.
The DOJ will take years of data, videos, and reports, involving millions of citizen contacts, and issue a scathing “pattern and practice” report that says the Phoenix Police Department is racist and they have violated the civil rights of the citizens. It won’t matter that just a few incidents will be listed in the report and the report will give no context to the events including any disciplinary actions the agency previously took.
Call us perplexed, but why is Chief Sullivan “waiting” on the report?
With a little copy/paste from previous reports, he should already know what the report will say.
We previously asked Sullivan to tell us what he is actually doing in Phoenix and we have not received a response so we asked around and have a little advice for the chief.
Make The Department Great
The idea that any agency needs the federal government to make them better is laughable. History clearly tells us that the opposite occurs and any chief that believes that, is not much of a chief. Every organization can improve and, here are some areas that should be enhanced in Phoenix.
Best practices in police policy is not rocket science. Phoenix likely has some very good polices now but the mission creep that is the DOJ will find some they don’t like. Who cares? The federal government is traditionally years behind best practices and until recently, they banned the use of body cameras within federal law enforcement agencies and should we even get into Waco or Ruby Ridge?
Regardless, to tighten up policy, Phoenix could simply call up Lexipol and grab a policy manual. It’s solid, rarely gets political, and used by thousands of agencies. It will either be kryptonite to the DOJ or they will have to launch “pattern and practice” investigations in thousands of other police departments.
Once again, training is not difficult but like many agencies with staffing issues, Phoenix has been somewhat lax in recent years. They should immediately implement a 40 hour annual mandate that includes officer safety, wellness, crowd control, customer service, use of force, mental health, etc. They should also launch an “elective” training program in a host of other areas that can serve as a way to mentor officers and give supervisors additional tools to assist officers. They should certify as many officers as they can as EMT’s or EMR’s and if they have not launched crisis intervention teams, they should immediately.
The Phoenix Police Department should place a priority on communicating to the public. Their website should be news driven and transparency should be the highlight. Podcasts, video, and apps are not hard. The department could take a small fortune they have already spent on the DOJ Investigation (2-3 million) and hire their own news team to do what every local news station does.
Tracking and follow up on citizen complaints is important and it appears that Phoenix is woefully lacking in this area. The DOJ will be discussing this in their report and it begs the question, what is Chief Sullivan waiting for? Software already exists to do this and if the agency needs a few more employees to make this happen, then our answer is the same as above…stop spending millions on a pending consent decree and do this and more.
Use of Force
This is the wheel house of the DOJ. They will always manipulate isolated incidents to make them look like something they aren’t but it’s coming and Chief Sullivan should know this. He was in Louisville and Baltimore previously (consent decree cities).
First, use of force should be tracked and every incident placed under an accountability framework that includes supervisor review and recommendation all the way to the chief. Viewing body camera footage should be mandatory in every incident and any violations of policy should be investigated. This is basic stuff so if Chief Sullivan isn’t already doing this, he’s holding back to help the DOJ.
Secondly and just as important, is the tracking of use of force. The DOJ always takes use of force by race and compares it to the population but this makes no sense. The only individuals subject to use of force are those committing crimes and since criminals in Phoenix do not match the census demographics, the use of force will not match the census demographics.
This is why an accurate and specific analysis must be made, in real time, with use of force. Phoenix likely has some data nerds in their agency but we recommend a third party because even data nerds won’t be believed if they are cops.
Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia isn’t dealing with a DOJ Investigation but he appears miles ahead of Phoenix. He understands the tactics used against law enforcement and commissioned multiple studies to look at his departments use of force.
More importantly, he utilizes software by Police Strategies to monitor the use of force by officers. The Police Force Analysis System is nothing short of brilliant and it includes a public dashboard. After looking at the report done for Dallas, we are beyond confused as to why Chief Sullivan is not moving on this issue and others.
Greatness Is Not Waiting
Law enforcement is in a golden age. We no longer have to wait for anyone, particularly the DOJ, to tell us we could do things better. Not knowing the correct policy is easily fixed. Any accusations of biased policing is easily corrected through existing technology. There is more training, including online, than ever before.
Any costs associated with this has already been spent playing secretary for the DOJ and the cost of a consent decree is so extreme, the costs above cannot be the excuse.
So why haven’t we seen Phoenix move on these items?
Washington D.C. Attorney Michael Bromwich was given a one million dollar retainer to “advise” the department on the DOJ investigation. What is he doing?
We have reached out to numerous police experts that gave us some of this advice and they did it for free. The cost of Bromwich alone gets you Lexipol’s Policy, daily online training and the Police Force Analysis System and there would be money to spare to hire that 33 year old washed up news anchor to do the same for Phoenix P.D.
The first year was literally paid for using the money given to a former DOJ employee and Washington D.C. attorney that is phoning in advice.
What’s Really Happening?
These recommendations were not hard to come by. We simply read previous consent decrees, saw where they attacked and came up with the above suggestions.
The only reason we can think of why Sullivan has not done this is that he is somehow in on it…The Fix Is In.
We suppose that he could be not smart but we doubt it. Nothing we suggested is new. Agencies across the country are doing this and more.
Someone, somewhere needs to demand answers and action!