'Highly irresponsible and offensive': Arizona Police Association, MCAO respond to DOJ report on Phoenix Police

The Arizona Police Association (APA) and Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell held a news conference on July 2 to respond to the Department of Justice's report on the Phoenix Police Department.

"We have combed through the report, and are appalled," said APA President Justin Harris. "It is highly irresponsible and offensive for the Department of Justice to make allegations that have zero insight about the incidents they are reporting on."

In the 126-page report released last month, the DOJ said Phoenix PD discriminates against Black, Hispanic and Native American people, unlawfully detains homeless people and uses excessive force, including unjustified deadly force.


Community leaders speak out on DOJ investigation into Phoenix Police

One week after the Department of Justice released a scathing report on the Phoenix Police Department, community leaders are continuing to speak out.

Following the release of the report, the assistant attorney general said the DOJ's findings revealed what she called "long-standing dysfunction" in the Phoenix Police Department, saying Phoenix PD routinely violated the civil rights of protesters and the homeless, while discriminating against people of color.

"We already know of quotes that they have used in their report that actually are not backed up by actual recording that they took," said Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell, who also questioned the report's conclusions.

"At best, this report is nothing more than a politically-driven document prepared by a federal agency focused on undermining local law enforcement," Mitchell said.

Officials with the U.S. Department of Justice have declined to comment on the matter.

Meanwhile, civil rights attorney Benjamin Taylor said it's time for accountability.

"I don’t believe this is a smear campaign. I believe this is many people who have spoken out - homeless people, people of color, mentally ill people who have spoken out, wanting change, and you have mass evidence based on lawsuits that we have filed ourselves that show that the Phoenix Police Department has violated people’s rights," said Taylor, who has sued the Phoenix Police Department before.

Taylor suggested the city needs to sign a consent decree, with the police department being overseen by a judge and DOJ-appointed monitor to implement changes.

"The reason why you don’t want the department to look over themselves is because it’s like the wolf guarding the henhouse," said Taylor.

Proponents say a consent decree keeps police deparments accountable, but critics say its ineffective and costly, pointing to higher crime rates with cities under one, and hefty price tags in the millions.

Phoenix city officials, meanwhile, say they oppose one, and suggest they won’t sign. That could set the stage for a potential court battle.

Phoenix Police spokesperson Ryan Cody has issued a statement on the matter, which reads:

"City staff is currently identifying the events outlined in the DOJ’s report and assessing the recommended improvements, as requested by the Mayor and Phoenix City Council. We look forward to continued and collaborative discussions with the residents of Phoenix, City employees, and the DOJ with the goal of developing solutions that work best for our community."

The Associated Press (AP) contributed to this report.