KOLD INVESTIGATES: Changes coming to policing the police in Arizona

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Published: Aug. 20, 2021 at 5:32 PM MST|Updated: Aug. 23, 2021 at 6:31 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Changes are coming to the way police are held accountable across the state, including right here in Tucson.

Gov. Doug Ducey signed off on a new law requiring civilians who serve on review boards to undergo police training.

Some review boards will also be restructured to include more law enforcement officers.

Tucson’s Deputy City Manager said the recently passed state legislation will impact the Community Police Advisory Review Board and other review mechanisms such as the Independent Police Auditor.

Members of CPARB and the IPA must complete 80 hours of certified training on use of force, de-escalation, body cameras, in-custody deaths, criminal and administrative investigations and representative due process along with simulated event training.

“I think it’s aggressive,” said CPARB Board Chair Annabelle Nunez. “Again, when you are talking about a volunteer board of community members, I think that puts some barriers on some people who want to participate.”

The board reviews and comments on completed investigations of complaints brought against the Tucson Police Department.

“That entails reading transcripts, that entails reviewing body-worn cameras, and reading all the communications that go through the process of the investigation,” Nunez said.

It is volunteer work that can take dozens of hours a month, but Nunez said she makes time because it is important work.

“I don’t want to give lip service, and then not be a part of the solution,” she said. “That is what I think the board is, is part of the solution so I want to be at the table.”

“I felt last year with the events of what were happening around the murder of George Floyd how important community voice is in the process of evaluating the work that a law enforcement agency does,” Nunez said.

Nunez said the board reviews cases and then makes recommendations, but ultimately the police department decides what to do with the advice.

“It’s not really that we have a lot of power in that we essentially can give recommendations to the police department on the policies that are in place that may be questionable that would bring a complaint forward,” Nunez said.

“This state law is completely unnecessary given that the Tucson Police Department already provides training and technical support to civilians on CPARB and other city review boards. It creates a false sense of division between our officers and the public, when in reality TPD actively seeks community input to improve outcomes for law enforcement and the public alike. Can you imagine being required to complete 80 hours of training to participate in jury duty? This law will likely exclude parents and working Tucsonans from being able to participate in this important process.”

Tucson Mayor Regina Romero

Director of the Arizona Police Association Joe Clure believes this newly required training is not only fair but also necessary.

“I think it’s important because police officers are asked to do an extremely unique job that the community and the law provides them with authority to do such as use of deadly physical force,” Clure said.

Clure said subject knowledge is crucial.

“There’s a lot of other things that people need to understand what they are looking at and just have a general base understanding of what they are being asked to opine on,” Clure said.

Nunez agrees that education is important but fears the additional training will make it even harder to recruit members. In fact, the board has a vacancy right now.

“It will be interesting to see what the future could hold for this board,” Nunez said.

According to the city, TPD will provide the training and it will be provided mostly, if not completely online.

Before the training can be released, the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board must review and certify it.

Once the training has been certified, TPD will compile the training materials and make them available on-demand.

KOLD asked Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus for an interview on the training, but his office declined until they are further into the planning phase.

To apply to serve on the board, you can email Nunez at abnunez1223@gmail.com.

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