Phoenix Is Living Up to Its Name

“No free government can survive that is not based on the supremacy of the law. Where law ends, tyranny begins. Law alone can give us freedom.”

T. Hartley Alexander, Second Floor Relief in the Department of Justice Building in Washington, D.C.


The United States Department of Justice

The government agency, the Department of Justice (DOJ), was established on the stump of the First US Congress authorizing in 1789 an Office of the Attorney General. The department was formed in 1870, established by Congress to manage the litigation regarding the Civil War.
It began to cross over to criminal side of law in the 1920s based on some famous murders and kidnappings. Today we recognize that as mission creep. A bureaucracy robustly developed its hive in the 1930s and a prominent headquarters at 950 Pennsylvania Ave NW was occupied in September of 1934. In 2001, the structure was renamed the Robert F. Kennedy Department of Justice Building. Today, the Department of Justice presides over 59 federal law enforcement agencies with 100,000 sworn officers and agents. However, it is the Civil Rights Division who undermine local law enforcement through threats of lawsuits and takeovers that harms communities that they claim to help the most.

Investigation into Phoenix PD

The DOJ announced on August 5, 2021, that it was going to be conducting an investigation on ‘pattern and practice’ violations of civil rights by the Phoenix Police Department and the City of Phoenix reaching back to 2016.  It is no small coincidence that this time period fall following the massive civil unrest and violent demonstrations in 2020 and incidents that occurred prior to the Biden Presidency.

According to the announcement the five issues are:

1. Use of force, including deadly force;

2. Potential retaliatory activity for the exercise of First Amendment rights;

3. Discriminatory policing;

4. Responses to people with disabilities, including mental and behavioral health disabilities; and

5. Claims that the PPD has improperly disposed of the property of people experiencing homelessness

There is a toxic practice named ‘presentism’ where behaviors deemed acceptable in the past have suddenly and drastically changed according to contemporary standards. This occurs even when different parties have different beliefs. In the case of the Department of Justice and the Phoenix Police Department, where the police department has actually embraced the ludicrous notions of Eight Can’t Wait by BLM’s Campaign Zero, the police department has even stretched to attempt to hit benchmarks amid moving goalposts.

Phoenix Reform Efforts

Phoenix has already done everything to demonstrate reform in their policies and their practices. They’ve composed a very sober report of being responsive to every complaint documented by DOJ and documented over and above in a responsive and comprehensive 54-page report, Phoenix Police Department: The Road to Reform.

This is the appropriate time to mention that the DOJ didn’t visit Phoenix during the first six months of their investigation, beginning August 2021, due to supposed COVID concerns. In May 2021, White House/CDC guidance was issued that vaccinated individuals were no longer required to mask in public preceding Memorial Day. This was the de facto end of mandatory masking in public. Also, following this time in August, the police department, has no concise and specific complaint against them.

Communism, like law enforcement consent decrees have a perfect record of absolute failure and unnecessary loss of life, attributed to ‘not the right people’ being in charge.

Phoenix has responded nearly perfectly. In October 2023 when requested a copy of the investigation, they received this very telling response attributed to Kristen Clarke, head of the Civil Rights Division:

“In certain circumstances, we may decide to provide a short time for jurisdictions to read the findings report prior to public release — for example, where those jurisdictions commit to an agreement in principle to enter into a consent decree with an independent monitor. We do not plan to change our practices regarding any findings report that we may issue regarding the Phoenix investigation.”

Darell Kriplean gets it right: “The Department of Justice is not interested in making local police departments and the communities they serve better,” said Darrell Kriplean, president of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, which represents about 2,200 officers. “This action demonstrates that they are only interested in removing control of local police from the communities that they serve through consent decrees.”

No one says it better than Dr. Travis Yates

“The request made sense. After all, Phoenix had spent over 6 million dollars complying with the investigation so they certainly deserved the right to see it. The problem was that the DOJ has never had to do that. They have been able to convince cities like Pittsburgh, Louisville, Chicago, Portland, Seattle, Cleveland, New Orleans, Albuquerque… and a host of other “consent decree” cities you will never vacation at to sign off, leaving them scratching their head at the report later.” Check out the rest of his discussion here.

DOJ has not shared the report with all of their dubious claims yet. Not a great example of transparency and developing community trust. Consider all federal agencies, from IRS to FBI and let me know if you have ever experienced from any of them an effort to develop and build community trust.

Please keep all peace officers in your prayers, especially those in and around Phoenix.

This article originally appeared at The American Peace Officer. 

Roland Clee served a major Florida police department as a Community Service Officer for more than 26 years. His career included uniformed patrol, training, media relations, intelligence, criminal investigations, and chief’s staff. He writes the American Peace Officer newsletter, speaks at public safety, recruiting and leadership conferences and helps local governments and public safety agencies through his business, His work is frequently featured on, the only law enforcement owned major media player in the public safety realm.


indeed, their cooperation was recently noted with approval by the head of

the Civil Rights Division.

4 Through December 2023, the DOJ’s requests have resulted in

the production of the following materials:

• More than 179,000 separate documents, totaling over one million pages;

• Approximately 20 terabytes of data from multiple PPD databases and systems;

• More than 22,000 body worn camera (BWC) videos relating to uses of force; and

• Approximately 200 recordings of 911 calls

In addition to these requests for materials, DOJ lawyers and experts have

traveled to Phoenix on eight occasions to conduct group and individual interviews, visit

each PPD precinct, observe training, meet with community groups, and conduct ride-

alongs with PPD officers and supervisors.

Because of various obstacles and complications, inc

The AP also describes tactics as reckless where the report defines them as dangerous, a significant distinction.