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Phoenix council votes against defunding police oversight office

Phoenix Police Department
Posted at 7:47 PM, Feb 17, 2021

PHOENIX — Phoenix's police oversight office will keep its funding, but when, or if, it will ever open still is unclear.

Three Phoenix city councilmembers, Sal DiCiccio, Thelda Williams, and Jim Waring, proposed defunding the Office of Accountability and Transparency. The trio wanted to transfer most of the office’s $3 million budget to services for the homeless.

At a council meeting Wednesday, dozens of Phoenix residents and police-reform advocates called in to oppose the idea. Phoenix city council voted 6-3 against the money transfer.

Councilmembers approved and funded OAT last year, but they hit an impasse on the details of how the office should conduct its oversight functions last November.

“Supporting the OAT is set up for failure," Councilman Sal DiCiccio said. “It is literally set up to make our police department look bad in every situation, making sure they don't even act anymore, and then you are going to end up with criminals running through our streets."

"To me, oversight and accountability does contribute to a safe city,” Mayor Kate Gallego said. “We want to build trust with our community, and we want all of our residents to feel that our justice system is working as best as is possible.”

Several criminal justice reform groups also presented nine petitions to the Phoenix City Council Wednesday. They urged the council to fire the city manager and police chief, disband the police department’s tactical response unit, and tell the county attorney to drop criminal charges against police reform protesters.

The petitions seek reforms after a recent ABC15 investigation. Politically Charged exposed how Phoenix officers mistreated, mocked, lied about, and piled on charges against protesters, who had spoken out against politicians and police.