Nearly three months after the Phoenix Police Department was criticized when its officers pointed guns at a Black family accused of shoplifting, the city announced that its officers are now required to document every single instance in which they aim their weapons at people.
During a press conference on Monday, Mayor Kate Gallego said the rule stemmed from a set of recommendations released in April by the National Police Foundation, which were developed with input from local residents and city employees. The new tracking initiative topped the list.
Police Chief Jeri Williams called the measure “an important step in our relationship building.”
“Our updated record management system now allows us to track these incidents and will allow us to have a real idea of how many times our officers are able to successfully de-escalate an incident and a situation with the potential of deadly force,” she said.
All officers will also be required to undergo eight hours of mental health training and wear body cameras while on duty, which Gallego said “will allow us to show situations that have been de-escalated and better understand what is happening in our community.”
In June, a bystander’s video went viral showing Phoenix police confronting Dravon Ames, 22, Aisha Harper, 24, and their two children, ages 1 and 4, in a parking lot the previous month. The officers responding to a report of shoplifting began shouting at the family to get out of the car.
In footage of the May 27 altercation, an officer can be heard yelling, “I’m going to fucking put a cap in your fucking head,” and “You’re going to fucking get shot.” He is not in view in the video.
Seconds later, another officer approaches the family’s car with his gun pulled, demanding that Harper “get out the fucking car” and raise her hands, as the pregnant mother explains she cannot because she’s holding a child.
Ames is slammed against a police vehicle as an officer says, “When I tell you to do something, you fucking do it.” The video shows no indication that Ames was uncooperative.
According to the family’s account of the event, an officer opened the door of their car with his weapon drawn, threatening to shoot Ames while the couple’s children sat in the backseat.
Amid the ensuing public outcry, Williams shared a taped message calling the event troubling and stating that an internal investigation had begun. Shortly after, she and Gallego apologized to the family, but Ames rejected their remarks as “a slap in the face” and called the officers “not fit to be policing.”
In 2018, the Phoenix police grappled with a record-breaking 44 officer-involved shootings ― more than any other American city.