Was Chief Sullivan Selected To Impose A Consent Decree?

Lori Bays is the Assistant City Manager in charge of the Phoenix Police Department. Interim Chief Michael Sullivan reports to her so while Sullivan is the police chief, Ms. Bays runs the Phoenix Police Department. There is nothing strange about that…Most chiefs report to someone but we found a very interesting video (6/28/23) of Ms. Bays speaking with City Councilman Jim Waring.

The specific discussion about the Phoenix Police Department begins at 9:20 where Ms. Bays describes the Phoenix Police Department as “fantastic” and “best in class.”

We happen to agree.

As the interview portrayed, Ms. Bays was “integral” in the hiring of Phoenix Police Chief Michael Sullivan and she describes finding him as “trying to find a unicorn.”

Ms. Bays said that she needed someone with expertise in working with the Department of Justice and that Sullivan was identified by talking with the “police reform experts” and “looking at the cities who have successfully come through DOJ Investigations.”

In speaking about Chief Sullivan, Bays said that “he understands what it takes to successfully move through a Department of Justice Investigation, so I think that’s what we are doing and we’ll see where things go when we get to the point in time where we are able to start that search for a permanent chief  He has the opportunity to put his name in as an applicant for that process…”

While we don’t have the expertise to discuss whether Chief Sullivan is actually a unicorn, we know this. Phoenix is the 5th largest city in the country and Michael Sullivan has never been a police chief. While that is unique in one of the largest cities in the country, Ms. Bays specifically said that “he understands what it takes to successfully move through a Department of Justice Investigation…”

The only success that Sullivan has in moving through DOJ Investigation is the implementation of a federal consent decree.

Sullivan was hired from the Baltimore Police Department where he commanded the Consent Decree Implementation Unit and “worked in collaboration with the community, all Bureaus of the BPD, the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, the Court Monitoring Team and the Federal Court to advance police reform required by Baltimore’s Federal Consent Decree.”

What You Need To Know

The Phoenix Police Department is not under a consent decree and they do not have a Consent Decree Implementation Unit, a Court Monitoring Team, or a Federal Court overseeing police reform.

The experience that Sullivan brings to the table does not apply to the Phoenix Police Department so that begs a very concerning question and one we have asked before.

Has the decision already been made by leaders in the city of Phoenix to agree to a consent decree?

We were already concerned that “The Fix” was in after identifying the one million dollar contract to Attorney Michael Bromwich, who has significant ties working with the DOJ. 

We then discovered that the city posted a job opening for a Department of Justice Policy Writer position that oddly looked identical to a previous posting in Baltimore. A day after we published that article, the city removed any reference to the DOJ from the opening.

That information combined with the comments by Ms. Bays should scream to you that something doesn’t seem right.

The decision to comply with a DOJ Investigation, which Phoenix did, does not require a “unicorn” type leader. Prior to Sullivan’s appointment, the department was under investigation and it’s not rocket science on how to work with the DOJ if a city chooses.

The DOJ asks for information and the department provides it.

That was and has been the extent of the investigation. As we previously said, the DOJ does not communicate the status of their investigations to an agency during the investigative phase.

So why was the hire of Sullivan so important?

While he has never been a police chief, he has commanded a Consent Decree Implementation Unit.

Why did the city hire an attorney out of Washington D.C. that had been a previous consent decree monitor?

Don’t Insult Us

The only “success” that Sullivan had in moving through a DOJ Investigation was a consent decree.

Is a consent decree the goal in Phoenix?

We have no desire to accuse or assume but at some point, someone needs to answer some questions for the citizens of Phoenix.

What we do not have to assume are the results of a consent decree in the city of Phoenix.

The destruction of the police department and the community will occur and we believe it will be on a scale never seen before.

Agreeing to a consent decree is a voluntary decision and there has never been one imposed that an agency did not agree to. We have already described the violence and chaos that accompanies consent decrees so we believe the choice is clear.

The politicians in Phoenix have a choice to make and we have ensured that they have the information needed to make a rational and logical decision with the best interest of the citizens in mind.

That interest should always side with safety.