Show an ad over header. AMP

I am the FIRST

DOJ investigating city of Phoenix and Phoenix police department

The Department of Justice announced in a press conference Thursday it is opening a "pattern or practice" investigation into the city of Phoenix and the Phoenix Police Department.

Driving the news: The Justice Department's probe comes after the Biden administration reversed a Trump policy of not investigating police departments. It looks into several possible violations exhibited by the city's police department:


  • Whether the city's police department uses excessive force;
  • If the Phoenix police department engages in discriminatory policing practices;
  • Whether the department violates first amendment rights by "retaliating against individuals who are engaged in protected, expressive activities," Attorney General Merrick Garland said at Thursday's press conference;
  • Whether the city and its police department respond to people with disabilities in a way that violates the Americans with Disabilities Act;
  • If the department "unlawfully seizes or disposes of the belongings of individuals experiencing homelessness."

The big picture: The investigation's broad focus highlights the ways in which law enforcement is strained by virtue of being the first responder to larger societal problems, Garland said.

  • "Too often we ask law enforcement officers to be the first and last option for addressing issues that should not be handled by our criminal justice system," he said.
  • "This makes police officers' jobs more difficult, increases unnecessary confrontations with law enforcement, and hinders public safety," the attorney general added.
  • "Far too often police officers are the first ones called when someone is experiencing a mental health crisis in any setting, but it is almost certain that police will be called to someone experiencing a mental health crisis if that person is also without housing."

The investigation will include a review of police department reports, data and body camera footage, as well as meetings with members of the force and broader Phoenix community, noted Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke.

  • The probe will also look into repercussions that law enforcement officers accused of misconduct face, Clarke added.
  • The DOJ briefed Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego and Police Chief Jerry Williams about the investigation and both pledged their support, Garland noted.

The other side: In a statement issued Thursday, Gallego "welcomed" the investigation and noted that police reform has been an ongoing goal during her time in office.

Our thought bubble via Axios' Russell Contreras:The move fulfills a Biden administration promise to restart pattern or practice investigation into law enforcement agencies to force some into consent decrees to address excessive force cases.

  • The Phoenix Police Department and the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office have notorious reputations as agencies that target Mexican Americans and Latino immigrants. Activists have long asked for federal investigations.

Flashback: The Justice Department under President Obama entered a consent decree with Albuquerque in 2014 following an investigation that found its police department used excessive force against people suffering from mental health issues.

Don't forget: Most police agencies in recent federally court-ordered reform agreements saw violent crime rates skyrocket immediately, according to an Axios examination of departments under consent decrees since 2012.

  • The increases in violent crime rates suggest there can be unintended consequences, at least in the short term, to the policing changes many Americans demanded in the year since George Floyd's death.

Why the startup world needs to ditch "unicorns" for "dragons"

When Aileen Lee originally coined the term "unicorn" in late 2013, she was describing the 39 "U.S.-based software companies started since 2003 and valued at over $1 billion by public or private market investors."

Flashback: It got redefined in early 2015 by yours truly and Erin Griffith, in a cover story for Fortune, as any privately-held startup valued at $1 billion or more. At the time, we counted 80 of them.

Keep reading... Show less

Scoop: Facebook's new moves to lower News Feed's political volume

Facebook plans to announce that it will de-emphasize political posts and current events content in the News Feed based on negative user feedback, Axios has learned. It also plans to expand tests to limit the amount of political content that people see in their News Feeds to more countries outside of the U.S.

Why it matters: The changes could reduce traffic to some news publishers, particularly companies that post a lot of political content.

Keep reading... Show less

Scoop: Amazon quietly getting into live audio business

Amazon is investing heavily in a new live audio feature that's similar to other live audio offerings like Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces and Spotify's new live audio platform, sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: As with Amazon's efforts in podcasting and music subscriptions, the company sees live audio as a way to bolster the types of content it can offer through its voice assistant, Alexa, and its smart speaker products.

Keep reading... Show less

Hurricane Ida exposes America's precarious energy infrastructure

The powerful hurricane that plunged New Orleans into darkness for what could be weeks is the latest sign that U.S. power systems are not ready for a warmer, more volatile world.

The big picture: “Our current infrastructure is not adequate when it comes to these kinds of weather extremes,” Joshua Rhodes, a University of Texas energy expert, tells Axios.

Keep reading... Show less

"We must go further": 70% of adults in European Union are fully vaccinated

About 70% of adults in the European Union are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said Tuesday.

Why it matters: The milestone makes the E.U. one of the world's leaders in inoculations, after an initially lagging vaccine campaign, the New York Times notes.

Keep reading... Show less

What Elizabeth Holmes jurors will be asked ahead of fraud trial

Jury selection begins today in USA v. Elizabeth Holmes, with the actual jury trial to get underway on Sept. 8.

Why it matters: Theranos was the biggest fraud in Silicon Valley history, putting both hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of patients' health at risk.

Keep reading... Show less

Insights

mail-copy

Get Goodhumans in your inbox

Most Read

More Stories