Since the beginning of the legislative session and before that, Arizona State Representative Reginald Bolding has been working on legislation to provide police reform in Arizona.
The bill he introduced, which would require a third-party agency to investigate deadly police shootings didn’t get passed he says, all due to a lobbying firm that represents police departments.
“We actually had the votes from both Republicans and Democrats to pass but it was ultimately stopped. There was a strong lobby from police agencies to stop the bill and that was also kicked down the road," Bolding said.
While the bill introduced by Bolding was stalled and ultimately killed, House Bill 2168 is still on its way to Governor Ducey's desk. The bill was introduced by Republican Walt Blackman, who sits on the Arizona Criminal Justice Commission.
If signed, the bill would collect data from all state law enforcement agencies on deadly encounters, develop standards for reporting guidelines for agencies to follow and comply and it would require agencies to report their data annually to the Criminal Justice Commission at the legislature and the FBI. The commission would then release the data to the public on a yearly basis.
ABC 15 reached out to HB2168 sponsor Walt Blackman for comment on his bill and the state of police reform in Arizona.
An interview was not granted and ABC15 was instead directed to this prepared statement put out on Wednesday after the bill passed the Senate:
“In light of the recent incident in Minnesota that led to the shooting death of Daunte Wright, my heart and prayers go out to all that have been affected by this tragedy. I’m hopeful that the detailed data collected as a result of this legislation will help lead to informed decision making, policy reforms, and enhanced training to support law enforcement agencies and improve the ability of officers to serve and protect people in our communities.”
Since that statement, Arizona and the nation have learned of yet another deadly shooting that happened back in March in Chicago where 13-year-old Adam Toledo was shot and killed by police. Toledo was running away from officers and body camera video shows him holding both hands up in the air when he was shot and killed.
“What we are seeing is our kids literally dying in the streets. Even when you comply, even when you do what an officer is asking you to do that has to be a pause on our nation and ask, what can we do more to improve this? Because talking, coffees, group meetings, we’ve had enough of those, and what we need lawmakers who are willing to have the courage to do what really matters," Bolding said.