Tuesday, July 23, 2024
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Union officials defend Phoenix police following DOJ report



Union officials warn senior officers may retire early and others may change departments.

PHOENIX — The law enforcement community came to the defense of rank-and-file Phoenix police officers after a damning report from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Phoenix Police union leader Darrell Kriplean says the chance of a multi-year federal court monitor would hurt a department already struggling to fill its ranks.

“It would decimate morale,” said Kriplean of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association. “I think you would see a lot of our officers, the senior officers, maybe retire early, or some of our younger officers make lateral moves to a department that isn’t constrained by DOJ.”

Of course, if reforms are necessary they will justifiably be the priority. Supporting evidence of the DOJ’s conclusions are still emerging, but the union is adamant one of the feds’ findings is wrong. Assistant U.S. Attorney General Kristen Clarke said the city trains officers to escalate situations rather than to de-escalate them. 

“I’ve been a police officer for 30 years with the city, and I have never been taught to escalate any situation,” Kriplean said.

The president of a local nonprofit for officers showed up at the PLEA office to show her support. Anne Ender said she worries the findings will paint a broad brushstroke against officers. 

“They go out and they risk their lives every day, and that may sound cliche, but it’s true,” Ender said. “I hope people remember that.”

Assistant Attorney General Clark expressed gratitude for police officers and said she looks forward to working collaboratively with the department, community members and city leaders.

But union leaders are skeptical.

“The Department of Justice is not interested in making local police departments and the communities they serve better,” Kriplean said.

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