Moments after the Arizona Diamondbacks clinched the National League pennant by winning game 7 of the NLCS, the Phoenix Police Department sent out an all-hands on deck email notifying all its sworn officers that the department was implementing a mobilization plan it calls “maximum staffing”.
Effective Monday October 30 through Saturday, no sworn employees will be granted any time off from work unless the leave request was already submitted and approved prior to the Dbacks winning Game 7 of the NLCS. The intent is to have the maximum number of officers at work and on duty for the week of World Series games 3, 4 and 5 in Phoenix, so that any needed officer be deployed as necessary to maintain security around Chase Field and throughout the downtown Phoenix area, as numerous baseball-related events in addition to the games will be held here throughout the week.
If the department wants to continue to have the resources and personnel it needs to handle unforeseen events like the Dbacks advancing to the World Series (seriously, no one saw it coming except maybe Mike Hazen), then City and Department leaders need to stay as far away as possible from a DOJ consent decree.
For those of you living under a rock, the City of Phoenix and the Phoenix Police Department have been under a “pattern and practice” investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice since August 5, 2021. The DOJ wants to implement a consent decree in Phoenix – a voluntary agreement that becomes binding and is then handed off to a federal judge and a for-profit monitor for implementation and enforcement.
If Phoenix is foolish enough to voluntarily agree to a consent decree or any type of formalized, ongoing agreement with DOJ such as a Memorandum of Agreement, then department staffing – which is already RIGHT NOW nearly 600 officers short of its 3125 budgeted sworn positions – would be gutted further, possibly even leading to a shortfall of 1,000 or more officers, as those officers flee the agency to other local departments and beyond, all to avoid the inevitable organizational destruction that all police consent decrees ultimately bring.
It is critical for the casual fan to understand that officers fleeing a consent decree is NOT about an aversion to oversight, or an allergy to accountability. If that were the case, every officer and deputy across the country would have quit over the past decade as Body Worn Camera technology was deployed to virtually every agency in every jurisdiction. But officers and deputies didn’t even flinch, because unlike any other career in existence, they are not afraid of people watching as they perform their duties. The truth is that officer welcome – even demand – the kind of oversight provided by BWC technology. It would be fair to say that BWC has literally saved policing over the past few years, and especially after 2020. Legions of police officers have been exonerated against false misconduct claims, because of the existence of BWC. And many officers who had no business in policing in the first place were held accountable because BWC evidence verified that misconduct DID occur.
What police officers and deputies across this nation cannot tolerate is political scheming disguised as police oversight. Consent decrees, like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, take away the ability of police to do their jobs effectively. They forbid common sense and proven enforcement priorities and put officers on the sidelines, when good policing has never been more important and more necessary.
Like a bizarro Pied Piper, the DOJ comes to towns playing a catchy tune about keeping citizens safe from “patterns or practices” of predatory police behaviors that they portray as widespread, but which in reality are isolated incidents that are already dealt with quickly and appropriately by the agencies themselves. Throughout the tired and worn DOJ playbook, the song remains the same and always hits a sour note, as the 30-year track record of DOJ consent decrees shows conclusively that consent decrees handcuff police officers, bankrupt city budgets, and exponentially increase crime rates. Consent decrees hurt policing – they never help, despite the silver-tongued sales pitch by political activists thinly disguised as DOJ civil rights attorneys. Look no further than your nearest city that has or has had, a consent decree. In all of them, the police are less effective than they once were, and crime is higher. In all of them, agencies are futilely trying to manage a debilitating staffing crisis.
Consent decrees don’t work. Period.
But they cost hundreds of millions of dollars, depleting tax dollars that could and should have been spent more effectively on measures that actually work, like locally-based police accountability measures and local civilian oversight projects.
Seattle, Baltimore, Portland, Albuquerque and New Orleans – soon to be joined by Louisville and Minneapolis – all attest to the failure of DOJ consent decrees. City officials in those current jurisdictions have been seeking to undo the poor choices they unfortunately voluntarily signed up for. Research it (right here in the search feature).
That’s why officers don’t want to work in agencies tied down by unneeded and counter-productive consent decrees. They don’t have to – and they won’t.
And avoiding the pitfalls of a DOJ consent decree is the easiest decision a city can ever make. All it has to do is say “no”.
If the DOJ thinks it has an airtight case and can prove “patterns or practices” of discriminatory policing, let them bring it to court and present their so-called “evidence”. They never do – and they won’t here, either. City leaders should stop being afraid of the paper tiger that is the DOJ.
The DOJ is a rabid dog on a chain – it looks scary, but all Phoenix has to do to avoid getting bitten is to walk away.
Like it’s made up allegations of unconstitutional policing. The DOJ is all bark and no bite.
So as Phoenicians savor the Fall Classic in the desert for the first time since 2001, they need to understand that the public safety resources required to make things like this possible are in great danger as DOJ winds down it’s investigation and prepares its desired consent decree for Phoenix.
Phoenicians, and even visitors to this desert oasis, MUST tell the Mayor (email@example.com) and the City Manager (firstname.lastname@example.org) that a DOJ consent decree or anything similar to it is a LOSING proposition.
As far as the future of policing goes in Phoenix, it’s the bottom of the ninth and Team PPD is down by a few runs.
Let’s rally every Phoenician and do whatever is necessary to send the DOJ and it’s cronies back to the dugout, empty handed.
We can win this. And we will.