Independent review ordered for police's response to protest

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An independent firm will review the Phoenix Police Department's actions during the anti-Trump protest on Tuesday. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) An independent firm will review the Phoenix Police Department's actions during the anti-Trump protest on Tuesday. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
The ACLU of Arizona said it has received 130 complaints from people who were hurt by the police action. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The ACLU of Arizona said it has received 130 complaints from people who were hurt by the police action. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
“We do have concerns. This needs to be independent. Otherwise, it's not going to be productive. In fact, it's going to be counter-productive,” said ACLU Executive Director Alessandra Soler. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) “We do have concerns. This needs to be independent. Otherwise, it's not going to be productive. In fact, it's going to be counter-productive,” said ACLU Executive Director Alessandra Soler. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Ed Zuercher will take his request to the City Council on Aug. 30 to get the contract approved with OIG. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Ed Zuercher will take his request to the City Council on Aug. 30 to get the contract approved with OIG. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

Phoenix City Manager Ed Zuercher will move forward with plans to hire an outside consulting firm to conduct an independent review of the police response to protests outside President Donald Trump’s rally last week in downtown Phoenix.

The Phoenix Police Department is conducting its own review. This outside review will be in addition.

“I just felt it was in the best interest of the City and the police department to have validation, a review of what the police officers did on Tuesday from an objective source, from an external third party,” said Zuercher.

[RELATED: Phoenix police's non-lethal arsenal on display during Trump protest]

Hours of peaceful protest ended with police in riot gear using smoke bombs, tear gas and pepper spray to disperse the crowd after police reported they were being pelted with water bottles, fireballs and gas canisters.

[READ MORE: 4 arrested, 2 officers suffer heat exhaustion after protest turns unruly outside Trump rally

The ACLU of Arizona was just one of many groups who demanded an independent review. ACLU Executive Director Alessandra Soler was pleased to hear the City of Phoenix heeded the calls.

“What was problematic is that the initial reports from the police department said that people were throwing rocks. Then they changed it and said that people were throwing tear gas. Then they said that people were throwing some sort of lit devices. So, we haven't gotten consistent information from the police department with regard to what triggered this kind of a violent response from the police,” said Soler.

[RELATED: Protester hit by gas round talks about his exchange with Phoenix police]

In a letter to Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams, Zuercher said he was engaging an outside firm to “ensure public confidence in our police department.” He also indicated the review does not “diminish the professionalism of our Phoenix police officers.”

[RELATED: Phoenix PD release more details on protests, arrests outside Trump's rally in Phoenix]

“The chief is very open to review. She is an open book, as you know. And so having someone come in and assess and review what her preparations and how her officers did is not anything that threatens her. She's very open to it,” said Zuercher.

Soler said the ACLU of Arizona has received 130 complaints from people who were hurt by the police action. 

[MORE: Activists: Police were aggressive, violent after Trump rally]

“We believe that police turned what was a peaceful protest into a violent one,” said Soler. She added, “We hope that the police department didn't have any say in which outside agency was doing the investigation.”

[RELATED: Trump protesters flood downtown Phoenix]

The company chosen by Zuercher is called OIR Group, Inc., based in California. Zuercher said Phoenix has never utilized that specific consulting firm in the past and reiterated that the neither police department or the chief had anything to do with choosing them.

According to OIR’s website, the consulting firm has conducted at least two reviews for the Oxnard, California Police Department for incidents that occurred in 2012, during the time that Jeri Williams was police chief there.

“We do have concerns. This needs to be independent. Otherwise, it's not going to be productive. In fact, it's going to be counter-productive,” said Soler.

[SLIDESHOW: Police, Trump protesters clash in downtown Phoenix]

Zuercher said OIR will have access to all police reports, audio, video and everything the department has compiled in relation to the event. But the consulting firm will work completely independently from the department.

[RELATED: Fights break out among protesters at Trump rally in Phoenix]

“The city attorney and I, over the last week, have been asking around nationally about groups that do this sort of work. Their name came to the top. We talked and reviewed a couple of different options but they consistently came out as one to have this experience,” said Zuercher.

Williams issued a short internal memo informing all her officers of the city manager’s actions.

It stated:

“The City Manager has asked the Police Department to cooperate with the Office of Investigative Review and the City Attorney's Office in a review of our actions last Tuesday. I welcome an outside look at our planning and preparation. We are committed to transparency.”

Zuercher will take his request to the City Council on Aug. 30 to get the contract approved with OIG. The view will take at least 90 days and cost up to $45,000. 

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Donna RossiEmmy Award-winning reporter Donna Rossi joined CBS 5 News in September 1994.

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Donna Rossi

In that time, Donna has covered some of the most high-profile stories in the Valley and across the state. Donna's experience as a four-year veteran of the Phoenix Police Department gives her a keen sense of crime and court stories. She offered gavel to gavel coverage of the 1999 sleepwalking murder trial of Scott Falater, and the trial and conviction of retired Catholic Bishop Thomas O'Brien for a fatal hit and run accident. She also spent 2 straight weeks in northeastern Arizona in the summer of 2011 covering the Wallow Fire, the largest wildfire in Arizona history.

Donna's reputation as a fair and accurate journalist has earned her the respect of her colleagues and community. Her talent as a reporter has earned her more than a dozen Arizona Associated Press Awards and five Emmy statue.

Donna previously worked as an anchor and reporter in Tucson and got her start in broadcast journalism in Flagstaff. Donna is a past president of the Rocky Mountain Southwest Chapter of the National Academy of Arts and Sciences and currently serves on the NATAS board. She is a member of IFP/Phoenix, a non-profit organization of local film and documentary makers.

Donna was born in New York and moved to the Valley with her family when she was 9 years old. She is a graduate of Maryvale High School and attended Arizona State University. She graduated cum laude from Northern Arizona University.

In her free time, Donna enjoys boating on Bartlett Lake, all forms of music and theatre. Donna frequently donates her time to speak to community organizations and emcee their events. She is a past board member of DUET, a non-profit which helps promote health and well-being for older adults. Donna also loves donating her time to youth organizations and groups who work to secure and safeguard human rights.

On Oct. 17, 2015, Donna was honored for her amazing work over the years. The Rocky Mountain Chapter of the National Academy of Televisions Arts and Sciences inducted her into its Silver Circle. It's one of the organization's most prestigious honors for which only a few candidates are selected each year.

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