Phoenix Police Shootings the Subject of Hearing Before Lawmakers

Categories: News
Shane Yellowhorse

After 31 officer-involved shootings in Phoenix in 2013, and another eight so far in 2014, an Arizona House committee held a hearing yesterday to try to find the reasons why there have been so many shootings.

Two Phoenix councilmen plus a sergeant from the Phoenix Police Department gave various explanations for the shootings to the House Public Safety, Military and Regulatory Affairs Committee yesterday.

Councilman Sal DiCiccio suggested that the city needs to hire more police officers, and claimed the city doesn't have a "focus" on the police department. DiCiccio spent a good deal of time harping on the city budget, including things he believes are wasteful city projects and money spent on employee pensions, as barriers to hiring more officers.

Phoenix Police Sergeant Trent Crump, a department spokesman, later explained that in some of these officer-involved shootings, 50 to 100 officers can be at the scene, which doesn't represent a "staffing issue," he said.

Crump said Police Chief Daniel Garcia has commissioned a thorough review of shootings to try to figure out some of the root causes, including everything from officer training to background on suspects, and more.

For example, of the 31 shootings last year, Crump said between 15 and 20 of the people shot by police had multiple felony convictions, and were on some sort of release from jail or prison systems, like bail or parole.

He said a lot of them acted on "desperation," knowing a long trip back to prison was imminent.

The number of shootings has also coincided with an increase in assaults on police officers. Crump said there were 875 in 2011, and more than 1,000 in 2013.

Both Crump and Councilman Michael Nowakowski suggested improvements to the juvenile justice system might help prevent officer-involved shootings.

Nowakowski said the "slaps on the wrist" doled out by the juvenile justice system in Maricopa County seem to start a cycle of crime. Crump added that it might be worth considering changing how 15-, 16- and 17-year-old kids are dealt with in juvenile court after committing violent felonies.

Representatives of the Tucson Police Department, Arizona Fraternal Order of Police, and Arizona Police Association also gave comments to the committee on the state of police shootings statewide.

Republican Representative Justice Pierce, the chairman of the committee, said "several sources" requested that he hold such a hearing, to try to find a cause of the increase in shootings, but also see if there's anything lawmakers can do about the situation.

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It is painfully obvious that many people do not understand what police officers do for a living, what their "charter" is, and that what they do on a daily basis provides you the comfort of quarterbacking every little decision made in less than a second from the comfort of your computer.

It is very simple. The number of shooting incidents are up because officers are going after the most violent, desperate, and hardened criminals to keep the city safe. These criminals are armed and don't want to go back to prison. So, the officers can either let them run free and turn you into the next potential victim, or do their jobs?

There was a time about 5 years ago when police departments were at full staff. The departments had numerous proactive patrols which allowed for the apprehension of many criminals and put them in jail... guess what happens? They get out and they don't want to go back. At ANY cost.

So, don't blame gun laws. Don't suggest every shooting involves someone who is mentally ill. Added oversight isn't necessary (there is more than you can possibly imagine). Staffing is necessary. Managing city budgets and not blaming the police for doing their job is necessary. 

Cozz topcommenter

Its getting hard to tell who the criminals actually are anymore.


There have "been so many shootings" because the cops are up against a well armed public.  They deserve to go home to their families at night, so, anything that facilitates that is fine with me.


                      "DEAD MEN DON'T TALK"......BUT BODY CAMS DO!!!


Maybe it s time for the creation of an independent accountability panel for officer involved shootings, that would only answer to the legislature.That would ask the crucial questions?Like why were'nt alternative methods of force used in many cases.And are officers becoming to quick,to use deadly force? 


Shame on Sal DIccio - he has no idea what's going on in this city - there are way too many heavily armed cops walking around picking people off as it is. they should have counted up all the people who were shot and killed by cops because they had a mental illness which you dont answer with a gun, how many victims were unarmed, and so on. Also, the increase in assaults on officers is likely as much due to the increase in cops assaulting citizens a s anything else, because anytime they assault a citizen they charge that person with assaulting them to justify that level of force and to coerce people into dropping civil lawsuits. Any investigation into the assaults needs to really look at how many of those "assailants" were really just victims of police brutality.

eric.nelson745 topcommenter

I keep sayin'... that unless a cop sees a gun, use of deadly force is rarely justified. In confronting a suspect, police should do as much as they can to maintain a safety zone. If feasible, call for backup, get out of the way, regroup and figure out what to do next. This is especially true when dealing with a 5150. Use non-lethal weapons first and only escalate the situation as an absolute last resort. I would not include my philosophy of appropriate use of force in situations such as the tragic killing of that detective a few weeks ago. Persons who are known to be armed and dangerous should of course be treated as such. If the perp doesn't do as instructed immediately, then blast away.


How's that "gun in every pot" philosophy working out for you gun nu....I mean enthusiasts.

Of course, the response will be ....We need MORE guns.


@acwinter ,

Just wondering ac, since you know so much about the perils of the police, how many of them view anybody who doesn't wear a badge as "the enemy" 

Be careful how you answer because my job brought me into heavy contact with law enforcement from all over the state, and I know the answer.

danzigsdaddy topcommenter

@Cozz  (crime evidently pays...........shoplifters are able to survive,......... people who steal A/C's off of schools and churches are not only able to survive, but also support their drug habits...............and the politicians? well they are able to survive, support their habits AND retire comfortably....)

danzigsdaddy topcommenter

@Cozz  actually its getting too damn easy to pick them. you can damn near point randomly and pick one these days


@mrh0202201091 , You had me up until the "report to the legislature part" Do you mean the Arizona legislature or the legislature of a sane state?

Flyer9753 topcommenter

@shadeaux  You are actually trying to compare officers that are required to carry a gun on duty, with citizen carry and gun ownership???

Are you fucking stupid? (Rhetorical question)

Well since you want to get rid of them all, how about we get rid of all the polices guns first??? You would be ok with that right? After all, guns kill people, right?

Or should only certain people have guns? Like Law Enforcement only right? I am sure that will work out fine, they need them for protection.... but from what if we remove all the guns except theirs?? Do you really think that only the cops having guns would put a stop to this? 

What about the guy ABQ PD just shot? He didn't have a gun and was nowhere near the officers... are you ok with those murderers.. oh, excuse me, those officers having guns?


@Flyer9753 @shadeaux 

And you would be one of the nu......I mean enthusiasts I was referring to. 

Talk about any common sense restrictions on guns and they start drooling while they babble.

valleynative topcommenter

@teknik @valleynative@shadeaux@Flyer9753 

There's nothing special about gun shows.  Sales by dealers involve the same paperwork and background checks as at their stores, and sales by private citizens are no different than if they sold the guns on a street corner.

The fact that you can't sell drugs openly at "drug shows" doesn't seem to stop people who are willing to break the law from finding them.   Gun laws only change the behavior of people who actually obey the laws.



valleynative topcommenter

@shadeaux @Flyer9753 

The problem is that what seem like "common sense restrictions" to people whose understanding of the issue is based on the headlines they've read and the dramas they've seen on TV rarely make much sense in the real world, where criminals are free to ignore those restrictions, but honest citizens are not.

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