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Lawmaker says police reform can pass if Governor Ducey calls special session

Posted at 10:17 AM, Jun 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-16 13:21:10-04

PHOENIX — A Democratic Arizona state representative says he has the votes to get some key police reforms passed through the Republican majority-held legislature but can't do anything about it until Governor Doug Ducey calls a special session.

On June 2, Senate and House Democrats wrote a letter urging Governor Ducey to include five police reforms in a special session that is anticipated to be called later this summer to address another crisis in the state, COVID-19. The reforms include:

  • A police officer database that houses police discipline records meant to prevent agencies from hiring abusive officers that have been fired from another agency
  • Cultural sensitivity and de-escalation training requirements, or peace officer certification
  • Limited qualified immunity for officers; the measure would allow officers to be sued personally rather than the agency, if they have been found to act unlawfully
  • Turning over the investigation in a deadly use-of-force case to outside investigators and prosecutors
  • Body-worn cameras for officers across the state that record audio and video

On Monday, Rep. Reginald Bolding, a Democrat who represents South Phoenix and Laveen, told ABC15 that there is a consensus among legislators in the House and Senate on at least three of the proposals. He would not disclose which ones.

However, Bolding said they have received no response from Governor Ducey who would have to officially call for a special session in order for any legislation to be passed.

"Up until this point, the Governor's office has not reached out to myself or Democratic leadership to talk about a special session on police reform," he said. "We know that's what the public is asking for. We know that's what the protesters are asking for and, quite frankly, that has to happen in order for us to move forward."

Ducey did not respond to a request for comment from ABC15, but in a June 11 press conference, the Governor said he was continuing to meet with African-American faith leaders.

"We're gonna focus on somethings at the state level. Some things that were in my State of the State," he said.

Ducey was referring to his call for $5 million of the state budget to be put toward outfitting body-worn cameras on all Department of Public Safety troopers in his 2020 State of the State address. The process was put on hold after COVID-19 forced the legislature to adjourn.

He also mentioned changing the makeup of Arizona Peace Officers Standards and Training Board (AZPOST), the state agency that is charged with setting the minimum requirements to become a police officer.

"There's additional things that we can do around AZPOST, " he said. "It’s training requirements, the diversity of that board."

Right now, out of the 13 people on the board, 11 are men, 10 are law enforcement officials, and the majority are white.

Bolding says switching out members of the board only scratches the surface of the work that needs to be done and won't change the dynamic of how police interact with communities.

"We need to have systemic deep-rooted police reforms and the only way to do that is by tackling the real issues," he said.