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'We’re not afraid of transparency': Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams discusses reform in department

Since George Floyd died on a Minneapolis street just over a year ago, calls for police reform have reverberated across the country, including in Phoenix.

PHOENIX — On Wednesday, Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams discussed reforms in her office in the last year and a new office of accountability approved by the City of Phoenix. 

In May, the Phoenix City Council voted to establish an Office of Accountability and Transparency. It will have the ability to conduct independent investigations of police officers and create a new layer of civilian oversight.

“What I’m hopeful for is The Office of Accountability can provide a different lens,” said Williams, noting that people of different backgrounds can provide different perspectives. 

“Hopefully (the office) can provide different ideas on trends, how we can change or do things differently on training or point out what we’re doing well,” she said.

The officer’s union opposed the creation of the office, saying it would divide the community further and become a political tool against officers.

Williams said that over the past year the police department has also implemented new training procedures on the officer’s duty to intervene, the duty to provide medical aid, a chokehold ban and customer service.

“I’m also proud of the fact we have a better understanding of the importance of the mental health of our employees and we’re taking that to heart,” Williams said.

Williams also pointed to a new community member policy board as evidence the department wants the community’s input. The board reviews any new policy the department adopts.

“We want the community here because we’re not afraid of transparency,” Williams said.

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