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Despite demands for change and accountability, Phoenix Police release report ignoring community concerns after ABC15 Investigation

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Posted at 4:43 AM, Feb 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-25 06:46:19-05

PHOENIX — Despite numerous reports by the ABC15 Investigators exposing major problems with arrests and subsequent criminal charges filed against dozens of men and women in Phoenix for protesting in 2020, the Phoenix Police Department and the Maricopa County Attorney's office have so far refused to address concerns surrounding our "Politically Charged" series on-camera.


Still, both agencies are seemingly moving forward with other duties.

On Friday, the Phoenix Police Department published its bi-annual "Strategic Plan" that outlines the department's goals and vision for the next two years.

"This plan builds on several essential features, while also incorporating key insights from our employees and our community that will further enhance accountability, community trust and overall safety within our City," wrote Chief Jeri Williams.

While it's likely Phoenix Police began working on this report months ago, community activists hoped this report would address concerns surrounding arrests made during "Black Lives Matter" demonstrations last year, many that ABC15 has since proven were based on exaggerated testimony, false evidence, and lies.

"I think the fact that they weren’t even willing to change a report that they’ve been working on, to address the very immediate concerns that we have as a community right now, tells us that there’s no way that there is willingness to change as a department," said Viri Hernandez, the Executive Director for Poder in Action, a Valley organization against police violence.

Hernandez called the report contradictory to the actions taken by officers in the field, as seen in several reports showing officers' response to non-violent protests.

"They see all of this fire; they see all that's happening, they see all of these examples of violence... and they go out and do the exact same thing they do all the time," added Hernandez. "[Phoenix Police} says the exact same things they say every year and don’t even take responsibility for all that has just happened."

The plan listed several specific goals, and in some cases, outlined a timeframe they expect to accomplish each task and identify an assigned unit to that task.

For example, one initiative promises to "implement innovative national best practices related to community engagement, wellness and education to meet new and evolving needs." The document says this task will be reviewed annually and will be led by a new sub-division within the department, the Center for Continuous Improvement & Training Bureau, according to Chief Williams.

Others, however, fail to include specific plans.

An initiative to "employ practices which promote individual and organizational integrity" has no assigned unit or mode of evaluation.

“This department is not going to hold itself accountable," said Hernandez. "As a community, we're tired that this has continued to happen.”

When asked for a response to criticism of their newly released plan, Phoenix Police Department provided ABC15 with the following statement:

"Our Strategic Plan is a flexible, working document that will be reviewed and modified as needed to ensure our Department continues to meet the public safety needs of our City. Throughout the life of this Plan, we will continually monitor and assess our progress and utilize feedback from the community to ensure we remain on track to achieve our goals. We look forward to working in partnership with our community and key stakeholders so together we can ensure Phoenix remains a safe and vibrant city."