By Lou Manganiello, President, Phoenix FOP Lodge 2
My 20 years as a Phoenix police officer brought me close to danger countless times, but never a threat as extreme as the danger looming in our City today. Soon, the U.S. The Department of Justice will conclude its 13-month-long, $2-million investigation into the Phoenix Police Department. The feds’ investigation will almost certainly end the same way as such one-sided DOJ probes have ended in more than 20 cities around the country over the last 15 years.
With a declaration that the Phoenix PD has engaged in a “pattern and practice” of unconstitutional policing, systematically depriving some community members of their civil rights. The remedy? A consent decree, a legal agreement that will hand over control of our City’s police department to a judge and to highly paid consultants, who will fix public safety in our city to their liking, a solution that typically takes more than a decade to implement and winds up costing taxpayers tens of millions of dollars.
Let me be crystal clear: Such consent decrees have been agreed to in 21 cities nationwide since 2008, including Chicago, Seattle, New Orleans, Baltimore, Cleveland, and Newark.
A question: Will any of those cities be on your vacation itinerary anytime soon? Are any of them well-known for the safety of their residents and neighborhoods, or for the mutual respect enjoyed by their communities and police departments?
Of course not. Crime has continued to plague these cities, despite consent decrees that have enabled the feds to seize control of local law enforcement. Consent decrees have been tried and failed dozens of times since 1991, when Congress authorized the DOJ to investigate local police departments after the Rodney King case and the Los Angeles riots that followed.
Here in Phoenix, one elected body has control over this pending crisis: Phoenix City Council. The Phoenix FOP Lodge 2 strongly encourages the Council to vote “no” to a consent decree. Council should instead challenge the findings of the DOJ report and refuse to submit to federal oversight of the Phoenix PD.
Better to slug it out in court than to follow the destructive script DOJ investigations have initiated in city after city.
Consent decrees have destroyed the morale of the men and women on the frontlines. They have decimated the manpower of agencies already struggling to hire officers. And they’ve cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. Meanwhile, they’ve done next to nothing to combat crime.
Violent crime in New Orleans surged 29 percent in the three years after the consent decree was implemented. In Albuquerque, violent crime rose 34 percent in the three years after the consent decree was implemented. In Chicago, 458 people have been murdered this year – so far.
“The consent decree has not had an appreciable effect on police conduct or public perception of the department,” the Manhattan Institute wrote in its comprehensive July report analyzing the Chicago consent decree. “And there is at least some evidence that the process leading up to the consent decree exacerbated Chicago’s already-substantial crime problem.”
The Phoenix PD has long been a leader in community policing responsive to the needs of residents. The department should be led by local leaders who report to Phoenix City Manager Jeff Barton and the nine locally elected Council members who understand and live in our neighborhoods. Policing from afar led by bureaucrats is unworkable and unnecessary – especially at a time when crime in our city is trending downward. For the first six months of this year, PPD stats show murder is down 13 percent. Robberies are down 12 percent.
Policing controlled by a federal judge and a team of consultants is a failed experiment that will waste taxpayer resources and make Phoenix less safe for civilians and for cops alike. For the good of our City, we hope the City Council will not let the PPD be decimated by a federal takeover that will make Phoenix less safe and make the jobs of 2,500 sworn police officers exponentially more difficult every hour of every day.
Lou Manganiello has served as President of Phoenix FOP Lodge 2 for more than 15 years. Learn more at https://www.phxfop2.com/