'Constitutional policing' taking hold in Tucson, other cities

'Constitutional policing' taking hold in Tucson, other cities

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The Tucson Police Department has added a new layer of community involvement in its effort to keep the peace.

TPD has long been a proponent of community policing which encourages officers to get out of their vehicles and walk their beats but now it goes a step further.

It's called "constitutional policing" and it's a concept that is taking hold in cities across the country.

"We have one of the greatest responsibilities and honors that you can have in any profession," said Tucson police Chief Chris Magnus. "We are the defenders of the constitution."

That type of policing was on full display during a Black Lives Matter protest in Tucson on July 10 in Armory Park.

"It was very peaceful," said Pastor Grady Scott, who attended the rally. "It was well attended."

Hundreds of people gathered at the vigil but decided to hold an impromptu march through city streets. The organizers did not have a permit to march.

"In most instances, a permit is required," Scott said. "However, there is a constitutional right to do this without a permit."

The police stepped aside to allow the march to take place.

"Even when people are protesting, and in some cases protesting against what police may be doing, we're protecting their right to have their voices heard," Magnus said.

The policy appears to have the support of the rank and file.

"What we have in Tucson is very special," said Jason Winsky, the government affairs director for the Tucson Police Officers Association. "I think the model that we have in Tucson has prevented some negative outcomes."

People, like Iris Berry, the Director of Black Lives Matter in Tucson said the concept of constitutional policing "is very refreshing and it works."

Scott agrees.

"Anything we can do to bridge the gap between the police department and the community, I think is a positive," he said.

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