A DOJ Takeover Of The Phoenix Police Department Would Be Catastrophic

January 21, 2024

By Joseph Yang |

In whatever field you work for, can you imagine doing your job with one hand tied behind your back? What about both hands tied behind your back? Well, for the Phoenix Police Department this is no longer an “imagination,” this is their reality.

For the past 2 years, the Department of Justice has been investigating the Phoenix PD on the basis of allegations against the department regarding use of force, retaliation to protestors, and mistreating the homeless. For 2 years the Phoenix PD has been fully compliant with their investigation as stated by the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association in an open letter to Mayor Kate Gallego; “Because the city and it’s police department have nothing to hide, you have cooperated with every aspect of the DOJ’s investigation thus far – rightly so, and with our full support.”

However, the Phoenix PD, in that same open letter, conveyed their dismay to Mayor Gallego; “I write to you today on behalf of PLEA, United Phoenix Firefighters Local 493, AFSCME 2384, AFSCME 2960, ASPTEA and neighborhood groups Operation Blue Ribbon, Violence Impact Coalition, and Phoenix Mid-Century Modern Neighborhood Association to express our concerns about the direction of the DOJ investigation and its implications for the future of the City of Phoenix.” The Department of Justice, after concluding their “investigation,” has recommended—as they always seem to do—a consent decree go in effect for the Phoenix PD.

Now, why is this such a bad thing? Why are people against this? Here are a few of the reasons.

At What Cost

Let’s start with the most obvious reason taxpayers and residents of Phoenix oppose this. The financial burden on the City of Phoenix would be astronomical, costing the city $10 million alone for the court ordered monitor required by the consent decree. The rest of the cost widely depends on the length a consent decree is in effect for, but the Seattle PD, which has a consent decree, has spent $100 million so far. And that number continues to climb as the consent decree remains in place. I am sure you can see why taxpayers would be against this.

“I’m From the Government, and I’m Here to Help”

If the cost alone isn’t enough to sway you, then let’s look back on Ronald Reagan’s famous quote that the “nine most terrifying words in the English language are ‘I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.’” This is exactly what is going on in Phoenix. There really is no reason that someone from another state or the federal government should be dictating or instructing officers within the Phoenix PD. This takes away our state and local sovereignty. While the Phoenix PD is not perfect, they have taken actions and steps to improve and make policy and training changes when necessary. For the DOJ to come in and overreach in such a way, costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, is grossly inappropriate.

The CRIME, Need More Be Said?

If you look at cities that have a consent decree in place, violent crime has skyrocketed! In a statement, about a survey of officers within the Phoenix PD, the President of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association said, “In [the survey], we asked what the members felt would happen to crime if a consent decree was implemented. 93.73% said crime would rise either somewhat or substantially. That is in line with what we have seen across the country.” In that same survey, officers were asked how likely they would be to retire if a consent decree were to go in effect for Phoenix PD. The President of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association shared the results, saying, “Here in Phoenix, we are approximately 600 short of the max staffing of 3,125. In a recent survey, PLEA asked members how likely they would be to retire or resign if a consent decree was implemented in Phoenix. 12.57% responded that they would definitely retire or resign, while another 30.26% said they would strongly consider retiring or resigning. 42.87% is a concerning number!” Phoenix already has rising crime rates. We cannot afford to lose more officers. We need to gain more!

This Affects Us ALL

If you don’t live in Phoenix, why should you care? Phoenix is the 5th largest police department in the U.S. If the DOJ can do this to Phoenix, what will stop them from coming to Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, or other cities in the valley? Not only that, but if crime rates soar in Phoenix, that will certainly flow into neighboring cities. As the residency rates rise in Arizona, crime is bound to rise too, but so far Arizona has remained a decently safe state to live. However, if this consent decree goes in effect, there’s no telling how bad it could get.

Speed, Speed, Speed

After a slow and drawn-out investigation, speed seems to be the name of the game for the DOJ all of a sudden. After the DOJ concluded its two-year investigation, it brought its recommendation to the city council and for a decision within 48 hours. Many council members were frustrated and curious as to why an outside entity came into their city and demanded action in 48 hours when they themselves got 2 years to do their investigation. As Phoenix Councilwoman Ann O’Brien said, “Phoenix has been transparent and collaborative, now it’s time for the DOJ to do the same.”

This Is Nonpartisan

This is a non-partisan issue that affects all Arizonans, and we need you in this fight. Even the Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone, a Democrat, has announced his resignation because of the lack of ability to run his office due to this consent decree. That’s why I encourage everyone in our state to go to community forums hosted by the Phoenix PD and voice your concerns. The future of our state may depend on it.

Joseph Yang is a young community leader and grassroots activist. He currently runs a community organization and serves on the Chandler Police Review Panel. Joseph is the Founder of the East Valley Young Republicans and current assistant state advisor for the TeenAge Republicans. He hosts a show called “The Conservative Seoul Show” that you can find here.

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