PHOENIX (FOX 10/AP) - The Phoenix Police Department announced changes Monday made in the department after an increase in officer-involved shootings.
Some of these changes are going into effect right away, aiming to bring more transparency and accountability to the department, one of which is the rollout of body-worn cameras. There are more than 1,700 cameras in all, with all patrol officers now equipped with one. Phase Two of the rollout will now start.
"Phase Two will continue with the traffic bureau, with the Transit Unit and lastly, with the special assignment unit or our SWAT team," said Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams.
Chief Williams said Monday the hundreds of officers who patrol the streets of the nation's fifth-largest city must attend an eight-hour "mental health first aid" course to help them better identify people who are mentally ill or have substance abuse problems.
"Your police officers will continue to receive quality, up to date training and put empathy first," said Chief Williams. "Every officer will complete this training within the next 24 months, and it builds upon the basic crisis intervention training we use every day."
Phoenix Police will also require its officers to keep records of when they point their guns at people. The National Police Foundation recommended exploring better ways to deal with the mentally ill after finding Phoenix had 44 officer-involved shootings last year, more than any other agency. The Co-Chair of the Community Police Trust said this new policy is a major win for the city.
"The difference that it will make is we'll have a perspective," said Carole Coles-Henry. "Do we have a problem? Or don't we have a problem? If we do have a problem, what's the extent of it and more importantly, are there other tactics, situations beyond the gun belt?"
Phoenix Police Officer-Involved Shooting (OIS) information