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In 2020, police brutality and calls for reform dominated headlines

Police lights
Posted at 3:00 PM, Dec 27, 2020

PHOENIX — In 2020, ABC15 aired more than 70 in-depth stories looking at concerns about police brutality and how police departments were responding to calls for reform.

We reported on officer-involved shootings, police misconduct, excessive force, civil rights violations, racial bias, and failures in transparency and accountability. We looked at the role of police body-worn cameras, de-escalation training, and policing of people with mental illness.

Our coverage this year went beyond the protests to the families affected by police misconduct and the inner workings of police department policy.

Our reporting showed:

  • Officers demonstrating a disregard for human life when they failed to render medical aid to people who they shot.
  • A sheriff openly admitting that his jailers inflicted cruel and unusual punishment on a mentally ill grandma.
  • Phoenix police are much more likely to point a gun at a black person.
  • Criminal investigations of police officers favor the officers and result in lesser punishments than regular people.
  • If you speak out against police misconduct, you could face swift and harsh retaliation.
  • Too often treatable mental illness leads to dangerous police encounters.
  • Police pay lip service to de-escalation, which is not reflected in training.

We are also seeing efforts within police departments to release information and settle legal claims more quickly. The state board that oversees police officer certification, training, and discipline is rewriting instruction manuals for new officers. In addition, police unions are starting to embrace some reform proposals pushed by protesters.

ABC15 Investigator Melissa Blasius covers policing, public safety, and the criminal justice system. You can reach her at Melissa.Blasius@abc15.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

See links below to many of our 2020 stories on policing:

Policing people of color:

Police shootings and excessive force claims:

Criminal cops and other misconduct:

Police accountability and transparency:

Mental illness and dangerous police encounters:

Gila County jail inmate forced to drink toilet water:

Retaliation:

Other policing stories: