After an incident between Phoenix City Councilman Michael Johnson and a Phoenix police officer ignited tensions between police and minority communities, minority leaders have come out against the Phoenix Police Department, claiming it has a problem with its use of excessive force.
A report released yesterday by the PPD shows that contrary to the claims, reports of excessive force by the department as a whole have dropped by 9 percent over the past year.
According to the report, since 2008, excessive-use-of-force complaints have dropped by 13 percent at the South Mountain Precinct -- the precinct at the center of the controversy -- although, the number of investigations into excessive force incidents at that precinct increased from 16 to 18.
Oscar Tillman, president of the Maricopa County chapter of the NAACP, tells New Times that while he hasn't seen the report, he has some questions for the PPD as to how the numbers were compiled.
Tillman has been critical of the PPD in the past and recently called for Public Safety Manager (a.k.a. Police Chief) Jack Harris, to resign over (among other things) the department's growing excessive-force complaints against minorities.
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Without seeing the report, Tillman would not say whether the drop is the result of people not reporting excessive-force incidents, but he did say that how incidents are reported could skew the numbers.
"The first thing I'd look at is what they're basing it on," Tillman says. "Sometimes these things get recorded in a such a way that they don't get included."
He meant that some pertinent cases might get reported as something else and not be added to overall excessive-force tally.