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Arizona legislature sends Governor bills that critics argue lessens oversight on police

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Posted at 4:40 PM, May 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-03 21:48:37-04

PHOENIX — In the months after the death of George Floyd, more than a third of U.S. States enacted new restrictions or oversight on police actions, and Arizona is not one of those states.

In fact, the legislature is moving in the opposite direction, by doing what it can to protect police from public scrutiny. On Monday, the Arizona House of Representatives passed HB2462 in a party-line vote that will now go to the governor’s desk.

The bill is a Republican response to street protests in Phoenix last summer when some demonstrators called on the City Council to defund the police and create a citizens review board to investigate use of force incidents involving Phoenix police officers.

During a committee hearing on the bill in March, State Representative John Kavanaugh said, “I'm not throwing cops to the wolves, especially politically motivated wolves."

HB2462 requires members of any future civilian review board to have at least 80 hours of community college or AZPost certified police training, which is the equivalent of two weeks of the 20-week police academy.

The curriculum will include 20 hours of simulated event training, shoot-don’t-shoot scenarios.

“In law enforcement, we’re saying if you want to sit on one of these use of force of citizens review panels okay. They have to be educated on facts not feelings,” said Justin Harris, President of the Arizona Police Association.

However, opponents to the bill see it as a way of preventing people, who want to participate on a review committee from doing it.

The League of Arizona Cities and Towns opposed for that reason. State Representative Diego Rodriguez (D) Phoenix-District 27 said juries who often deal with much more complicated issues, don’t need special training, neither should civilian members of a review board.

“All we really want from civilian review boards are folks who want to serve their communities. Understand values of honesty and integrity and know the difference between right and wrong,” said Representative Rodriguez.

The ACLU is calling on the governor to veto the bill.

The House also voted 31-29 to require Police Departments to give officers who will be referred to the state’s Brady list 10 days to appeal that decision.

HB 2295 also prevents departments from firing officers solely because they’ve been placed on the list. Police officers are placed on the Brady list if they are caught lying and are found to have other credibility and integrity issues.