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Phoenix City Council approves police funding for guns during rowdy meeting

Posted at 7:28 PM, Dec 06, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-06 23:22:09-05

Rowdy is not how you'd likely describe a typical city council meeting, but Tuesday's Phoenix City Council meeting included shouting, name calling, and accusations of domestic terrorism.  

The controversy was over an agenda item to approve $750,000 in funding to purchase guns and for parts to fix guns for city officers. 

"It's to outfit our new employees with equipment that they need to do the job," said Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams.

But during public comment, some said the money would be better spent on mental health training or courses on de-escalation tactics.

"Chief Williams leads this department in a manner as if Phoenicians are the enemy to be dealt with through an adversarial lens or at the very least a nuisance to be contained," said one person.

Protesters pointed to the increase in police-involved shootings. Phoenix Police have been involved in 41 this year, nearly double the amount of 2017. Chief Williams requested a study on the matter and the city is awaiting the results, initially expected by the end of this month. 

"Until Chief Williams is willing to stand up and take responsibility and start working with the community instead of blaming us for our own deaths, we will continue to live in a city in which many will think twice before calling for help," said one protester.

But Phoenix Law Enforcement Association President Ken Crane said today the protesters lack knowledge of how officers are trained.

PLEA issued a statement on its Facebook page reading:

As is usually the case, the vocal minority with the least knowledge about the reality of how police officers are trained, both in the Academy and during annual, mandatory in-service training sessions that every Phoenix Police Officer must complete, regularly shows up at City Council meetings. They spew forth their diatribe, which is proof of their ignorance and lack of knowledge of such matters. Reality is that American police officers have carried firearms for years and the firearms we carry along with firearms and use of force training continually improve and evolve. The bottom line is that like patrol vehicles and any other piece of equipment we use, older firearms need to be replaced and we need spare parts to be able to maintain them along with those still in our inventory. Keep in mind too, that if you are stupid enough to point a firearm at, pull a knife on, or shoot at a police officer, chances are you will be shot.

Another person said the police officers are "domestic terrorists". Eventually, Councilman Sal DiCiccio lashed back at the protesters saying he's tired of the anti-police rhetoric.

"All you do is come out here and literally rip into them. I don't like it, I'm not your ally," said DiCiccio.

DiCiccio's Chief of Staff Sam Stone said he's seen many of the same protesters at more than a dozen meetings, but none has never asked to meet with DiCiccio to discuss their concerns until one person did last night. 

Council also approved just more than $100,000 for police recruitment. The meeting was abruptly adjourned as some audience members shouted and chanted.