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One-on-one with interim Phoenix Police Chief Michael Sullivan

Michael Sullivan
Posted at 6:00 PM, Sep 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-14 21:15:29-04

PHOENIX — Phoenix’s new interim police chief says he does not know how long the Department of Justice investigation into the city will last but anticipates findings within the next year.

Michael Sullivan, who took over the department this week, spoke about the ongoing federal probe during a 10-minute introductory interview with ABC15 on Wednesday.

“I would expect somewhere in the next 9 to 12 months,” he said. “That’s really a question for the Department of Justice… We’ll continue to work with them over the next year until their findings report.”

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Sullivan says his prediction is based on how long DOJ pattern or practice investigations typically last.

He comes from Baltimore where he served as the Deputy Commissioner of Compliance – a job overseeing that city’s consent decree with the DOJ. Before working in Baltimore, he was with Louisville Police.

Sullivan says he believes the DOJ probe into Phoenix is less expansive than in his previous department. But he does not know if the DOJ has expanded its investigation here beyond the five areas first announced in August 2021.

Last year, the DOJ announced it was examining whether Phoenix has a pattern or practice of using excessive force, discriminatory policing, mistreating people experiencing homelessness, mishandling mental health crisis response, and retaliating against protesters.

Sullivan said he does not have an indication of any areas federal investigators are focusing on more intensely.

“I think they’re looking at all of it,” he said. “And I can tell you from my experience with the Department of Justice, they’ll look at those five areas. But if other areas come up during their investigation, they will definitely probe in those areas additional to what they’re looking at.”

Sullivan added, “You really won’t find out if there are significant areas outside of that until you get to the findings report.”

Editor’s note: On Thursday, ABC15 will air more from its interview with Phoenix Police Chief Michael Sullivan. The next report will focus on the department’s ongoing scandals, including falsely charged protesters, top cops using secret messaging apps, and claims of retaliation.  

Contact ABC15 Chief Investigator Dave Biscobing at Dave@ABC15.com.