Phoenix may hire outside firm to review police performance during Trump rally

An ASU law-enforcement expert says the Phoenix Police Department should allow for an outside review of its handling of the Trump rally protests.

The city of Phoenix intends to hire an outside firm to review police performance during last week's Trump protest, according to a letter sent to Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams from city manager Ed Zuercher.

In the letter, sent to 12 News by the city, Zuercher said what Phoenix police accomplished during the rally was "notable" and the officers showed "professionalism in ensuring the safety and First Amendment rights of the community."

"There is though," Zuercher wrote, " significant community dialogue about how the final hour of the day unfolded."

Zuercher, of course, was referencing the chaotic scene that erupted following President Donald Trump's rally on Aug. 22 in downtown Phoenix. Phoenix police fired pepper balls and tear gas to disperse protesters as Trump supporters were leaving the rally.

In all, Phoenix police arrested four protesters and no serious injuries or property damage were reported.

The city council will vote Wednesday to approve funds for hiring the investigating firm.

Police Chief Jeri Williams said at a news conference that night that the police response was prompted by a protester who had thrown a gas canister at police providing security outside the rally.

RELATED: Trump rally protest ends with police firing pepper balls, arresting 4

Zuercher wrote the fact that there were no serious injuries or property damage is a "tribute to both the police officers and the huge numbers of participants who conducted themselves with civility."

But, Zuercher wrote, because of the nature surrounding the events and the community concerns he would look outside the department for a "objective review in this situation."

Zuercher said the city would seek the services of OIR Group, Inc., a firm that specialize in independent reviews of critical incidents and police tactics during community interactions.

"Let me be clear," he wrote, "this review does not diminish the professionalism of our Phoenix Police officers."

Instead, Zuercher said the review would serve to "strengthen" the department and "transparently educate" the community about the department's policing tactics.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton and Councilwoman Kate Gallego have endorsed the review.

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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