PHOENIX — As protesters and community advocates still call for defunding the police, Phoenix city leaders cemented a deal that would give an additional $60 million to the city's largest police union.
The new Memorandum of Understanding between the City of Phoenix and The Phoenix Law Enforcement Association passed in a 7-2 vote Wednesday and will implement several changes aimed at better accountability and transparency among rank-and-file officers.
- The police chief can immediately fire officers who are arrested for committing a felony on duty.
- Officers are no longer allowed to swap vacation days for suspension days when they have been disciplined.
- Officers can't purge serious misconduct cases, including ones involving dishonesty or drug and alcohol use on the job, from their personnel files. Now supervisors will be able to consider the prior misconduct when determining progressive discipline or promotions for their entire career.
- Outside investigators, like a citizen review board, can investigate officers.
- The department will stop warning people filing misconduct complaints they could be criminally charged if the complaint is false.
The changes didn't sit well with community members though. Dozens called in to participate in public comment on the contract, opposing the pay raise included for PLEA and its members in exchange for the amendments.
“The reforms in this memorandum are performative at best," said Phoenix Resident Dominic Banelli. "Changes like removing threatening language from police complaints and disallowing officers to use vacation time towards a suspension should have already been implemented.”
"To see more money being allocated to the department that is grossly over-funded, in my opinion, is just a slap in the face to the residents of Phoenix," added Ana Hernandez. "In no way is this being able to achieve any sort of reform.”
Many cited ABC15's "Politically Charged" investigation proving several Phoenix officers lied on the stand to over-charge police protesters, threatening them with felony charges and prison sentences. Several charges against protesters were later dropped after our reports began to air.
"These [changes] are things that we bought to the table this year as a result of listening to the community feedback over the last couple of years," said Lori Bays, Phoenix's Chief Human Resources Officer. "We made that clear at the beginning of the process that these are the things we are not going to walk away from the table without achieving."
The deal would grant $60 million over a period of two years, increasing pay for officers by five percent. City officials say that raise is the same across citywide for all employee bargaining groups.