Phoenix police to record when officers point their guns | TribLIVE.com
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Phoenix police to record when officers point their guns

Associated Press
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In this June 18, 2019, file photo, Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams addresses the audience at a community meeting in Phoenix. The meeting stemmed from reaction to a videotaped encounter that surfaced of Phoenix officers pointing guns and yelling obscenities at a black family they suspected of shoplifting. The Phoenix Police Department says it will train officers to track when they point their guns at people. The department announced Friday, Aug. 2 the policy was recommended by the Community Police Trust Initiative and the National Police Foundation, which studied last year’s police shootings in the city. The policy will go into effect Aug. 19. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)
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In this June 19, 2019, file photo, protesters angered by a video of Phoenix officers who pointed guns and yelled obscenities at a black family they suspected of shoplifting gather outside City Council chambers in Phoenix to demand reforms. Speakers called on the council to fire the officers involved in the videotaped incident and to create a board of civilians to oversee changes in department procedures. Phoenix Police Department says it will train officers to track when they point their guns at people. The department announced Friday, Aug. 2 the policy was recommended by the Community Police Trust Initiative and the National Police Foundation, which studied last year’s police shootings in the city. The policy will go into effect Aug. 19. (AP Photo/Matt York, File)
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In this June 18, 2019, file photo, Rev. Jarrett Maupin, front, gestures in frustration as he arrives with Dravon Ames, left, Lesha Harper, second from right, and one of the family’s two daughters, 1-year-old London, right, prior to the start of a community meeting in Phoenix. The community meeting stemmed from reaction to a videotaped encounter that surfaced recently of Ames and his pregnant fiancee, Harper, having had guns aimed at them by Phoenix police during a response to a shoplifting report, as well as the issue of recent police-involved shootings in the community. The Phoenix Police Department says it will train officers to track when they point their guns at people. The department announced Friday, Aug. 2 the policy was recommended by the Community Police Trust Initiative and the National Police Foundation, which studied last year’s police shootings in the city. The policy will go into effect Aug. 19. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)
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In this June 18, 2019, file photo, people line up near protesters outside a venue for a community meeting in Phoenix. The meeting stemmed from reaction to a videotaped encounter that surfaced of Phoenix officers pointing guns and yelling obscenities at a black family they suspected of shoplifting. The Phoenix Police Department says it will train officers to track when they point their guns at people. The department announced Friday, Aug. 2 the policy was recommended by the Community Police Trust Initiative and the National Police Foundation, which studied last year’s police shootings in the city. The policy will go into effect Aug. 19. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

PHOENIX — The Phoenix Police Department will train officers to track when they point their guns at people as the agency works to increase trust and transparency after a record number of shootings last year and national outrage over a cellphone video showing officers cursing and aiming guns at a black family.

The department said Friday the new policy was recommended by the National Police Foundation, which found Phoenix had 44 officer-involved shootings last year, more than any other U.S. department. Of those, 23 were fatal.

A separate database that tracks fatal shootings by police showed Phoenix officers also killed more people than any other agency in 2018. The city is now the nation’s fifth largest, with about 1.6 million people.

Residents’ distrust of the police, especially in African American and Hispanic communities, grew deeper in June when cellphone video emerged showing officers pointing guns when they confronted an unarmed black couple with two small children they suspected of shoplifting.

The couple said their 4-year-old daughter took a doll from a store without their knowledge and rejected police suggestions they stole, too. No charges were filed. The couple has filed a $10 million legal claim against the city, alleging civil rights violations.

Police departments in Phoenix and a handful of other cities also are investigating a database that appears to catalog thousands of social media posts by active-duty and former officers disparaging Muslims, black people, transgender people and others.

Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams, a black woman, has called the postings “embarrassing and disturbing.”

Training in the new policy to track when officers point their guns begins Monday and the policy takes effect Aug. 19.

Sgt. Vince Lewis said the policy aims to help record the number of times officers are successful in deescalating encounters as officers document each time they point their service weapons at people while on the job.

The Phoenix Police Department says it joins many other agencies around Arizona and in major U.S. cities that have already embraced the practice.

The department also has recently updated its records management system to increase transparency and has speeded up the rollout of body worn cameras, with 2,000 recently deployed. It also has been meeting with community members to improve relations.

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