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DOJ investigators meeting with community as Phoenix PD investigation continues

Posted at 6:28 PM, Jul 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-18 21:28:34-04

PHOENIX — Three Department of Justice investigators attended an 'input' meeting with members of the Black Mountain Community, Monday.

This is not the first formal listening session for the DOJ in their ongoing 'Pattern-or-Practice Investigation' and it likely will not be the last, revealing how much evidence gathering the federal team is still doing.

In August 2021, the DOJ announced it would investigate the Phoenix Police Department for five main reasons: excessive and deadly force, discriminatory policing, retaliation against protesters, response to people in behavioral health crisis, and the treatment of those experiencing homelessness.

Fast forward 11 months and a report shows the city has spent $1.9M.

The bulk of that taxpayer cash has gone towards paying the nine full-time federal employees.

"Two million is a fraction of where we're going to be," said retired Phoenix Assistant Chief Andy Anderson. "You look at the history of some of the cities that have gone through these processes...Seattle was somewhere over 100 million. If this ends up in a consent decree, this could go on for years, and be incredibly expensive."

In a document created by the city, they did note that other cities that were subject to the same DOJ investigation spent $8 to 11 million annually.

The actual investigations into those departments lasted anywhere from 9 to 38 months. However, the 'Status / Date of Court Order' for all of them is 'open' and some are in their eleventh year under DOJ oversight.

"As they move forward with their investigation, it will start getting branches, and they may go into other directions."

While most of it has been kept quiet, ABC15 learned in April that the federal team has been looking into other areas, like the controversial challenge coin that our investigative team exposed in the Politically Charged series.

According to a 'summary report' presented to the city council in late June, the city has already produced more than 80,000 requested documents, coordinated 40 interviews, and also hired outside counsel.

"They're in control of the investigation. So, they're going to move it forward based on what information they've received, what it is they're looking for, and it's going to be on their timeline," said Anderson, referring to the DOJ.

ABC15 reached out to both Phoenix PD and the City Manager's Office.

A spokesperson for the city emailed the following statement:

"The Department of Justice has held several meetings like the one happening this evening. The City does not play a formal role in those meetings but will have representatives observing the meeting.

The Phoenix Police Department’s Center for Continuous Improvement is continually looking for ways to improve policies and procedures, however as of this time, no recommendations have been made by the Department of Justice. The City and its leadership team committed full cooperation with the DOJ when the pattern or practice investigation was announced and continue to provide the resources and information to allow them to conduct a thorough investigation."