City Council to discuss making Phoenix police more community-friendly - Ahwatukee Foothills News: News

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City Council to discuss making Phoenix police more community-friendly

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Posted: Tuesday, November 16, 2010 11:00 am

A slate of recommendations aimed at improving the relationship between the Phoenix Police Department and the public they serve is slated for City Council consideration next month.

The recommendations include such things as requiring officers to undergo a urine analysis test after any officer-involved shooting; mandating that officers provide a professional card with their name, badge number and supervisor's contact information whenever they interact with the public; and educating officers that videotaping of their actions in public is lawful and that their behavior at any time might be videotaped by an onlooker.

The Community Engagement and Outreach Task Force, created by Phoenix officials in the spring, distilled the results from public input taken at a series of community meetings across the city in September. The purpose was to develop an action plan to ensure that police "treat all people with respect, dignity and professionalism."

Former Phoenix Police Lt. Christopher Gentis, who now serves as a member of the Ahwatukee Foothills Village Planning Committee and the Ahwatukee Board of Management, said the department sometimes suffers from a "us vs. them" attitude.

"It doesn't matter where you work in the city, everybody deserves dignity," he said.

Gentis was among the local residents who attended a community meeting on police interaction with the public at the Pecos Community Center in Ahwatukee Foothills in September. At the meeting, Gentis said he'd been unable to get the department to take seriously a citizen's complaint filed by his daughter against a police officer.

On Friday, he said that police officers also ought to attend community meetings occasionally.

"If they don't understand what community needs are and don't interact with community members, they miss the boat," Gentis said.

Toni Maccarone, a city spokeswoman, said the City Council is slated to consider the recommendations on Dec. 14.

Other recommendations include:

• Sponsoring an interfaith "Annual Public Safety Day" event.

• Emphasizing the recruitment of minority officers to "further ensure the department reflects the communities they serve."

• Training officers to be more culturally competent regarding differences of race, color, national origin, sexual-orientation and disability.

• Improving the process to address citizen complaints and establishing a multi-lingual/cultural campaign to explain the complaint and commendation process so that the public will understand it better.

• Encouraging officers to exit their vehicles daily to engage individuals and business owners.

• Conducting a pilot program to determine the effectiveness of installing dash cams in patrol cars.

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