Department of Justice to investigate Phoenix Police

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The Department of Justice has opened an investigation into the Phoenix Police department’s use of force, policing of protestors and policing in general. The investigation comes over a year after the murder of George Floyd sparked nationwide protests over racism in policing and use of excessive force. We talked about the investigation with former Phoenix Assistant Police Chief Kevin Robinson.

Robinson said that he both was and wasn’t surprised to hear that the investigation was taking place. He was surprised to hear how in-depth and involved the investigation is, but on the other hand he said that there’s been a lack of oversight for the last four years.

Regarding the city, Robinson said that they seemed surprised but probably shouldn’t be. “I don’t know if they necessarily expected it, but they knew what the numbers were,” Robinson said. “They knew the city led the nation in the number of officer-involved shootings a couple years back.”

When asked whether he thinks the issues at the Phoenix Police Department are systemic, Robinson said that the answer is a matter of perspective. When he was working on the force and especially when he was in a position of leadership, Robinson always found that they addressed the problems in front of them.

“Now did some things slip through the cracks and did some people do things they shouldn’t have done? Most certainly,” Robinson said. “But I was always proud of the fact that [we] dealt with those issues immediately once they came to their attention.” Robinson also said that the current investigation could be aware of this and still feel that an investigation is necessary.

Kevin Robinson, former Phoenix assistant police chief and current member of the ASU School of Criminology and Criminal Justice

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