PHOENIX — In the past several days, police chiefs across the Valley have engaged with protesters, but people are wondering if this will lead to real changes in departments.
In Chandler, hundreds have gathered downtown multiple times to demand change. Chief Sean Duggan has joined the protesters, walking with them and listening to their concerns.
In an interview with ABC15 Wednesday, he said he understood that the fight for racial justice is a complex one. "It's first understanding that this is American history, this is a deep-rooted American issue," he said.
Chief Duggan said his department has good relationships with faith-based leaders and other community members. For nearly 20 years, the city has had a Citizens' Panel for Review of Police Complaints and Use of Force. They are appointed by the mayor and hold quarterly public meetings to review police incident summaries, watch body-worn camera videos, and even see demonstrations of police techniques.
Chief Duggan said what matters most is the individual encounters officer have on a daily basis. "We try to make that encounter an opportunity for people to support us. Are we treating people respectfully and are we earning their trust?"
In Old Town Scottsdale Sunday, Police Chief Alan Rodbell said he supported peaceful protests, and he wanted to be a part of the solution.
"These are all things that police officers truly believe in. But we've had a serious horrible incident between police and the community it doesn't mark all of us. There are 800,000 police, good police, good officers. You see them all in these streets. They're amazing, they deserve the support and reinforcement for how they do their jobs. We need to be able to weed out those that have no business being in the business to start with, and those who come in the business and do the wrong kinds of things," said Chief Rodbell.
Friday, Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams marched with the crowd.
"We're going to work together; we're going to look at policies. We're going to work together, we're going to make change, we're going to work together on the killings, we're going to work together but I need you guys to give me some time," said Chief Williams.
Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone said his office has oversight from several agencies, including federal and civilian groups.
"We see patterns of behavior that are disparate. Then we'll dig deeper to see what are the contributors. What's most important is that we separate facts from assumptions and within those facts, what's the data? What's the causal reason for the pattern of behavior? Is it bias? Is it implicit? Is it racism? Or is it a pattern of practice they're not aware of and if so, can we train it out of them?"
Mesa Police Department and Chief Ken Cost:
"Chief Cost has been meeting with numerous community groups and community leaders to listen to and discuss their concerns."
Buckeye Police Department:
"The Buckeye Police Department values the safety of the citizens of our community, and hold the sanctity of life with the highest respect. The training provided to our officers enforces this, with the ultimate goal
of our interactions being a peaceful resolution. The Buckeye Police Department strives to maintain an open dialogue with the community, and work together towards solutions that promote a safe environment for all residents. In addition, the Buckeye Police Department is continually evaluating policies, procedures and training regarding use of force, and thoroughly reviewing every use of force by our officers."