Demonstrators gather at Mesa Police HQ as agency faces scrutiny for use of force

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MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

Demonstrators gathered outside Mesa Police headquarters Friday night as the agency faces more scrutiny for recent use of force incidents.

Police Chief Ramon Batista announced Friday, that at his request, the national non-profit group Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) will review the Mesa Police Department’s use-of-force track record.

[RELATED: Mesa police investigate use of force policy]

Batista also requested former Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley help oversee the internal investigation into two use-of-force incidents caught on video and released this week.

“Frankly we can't really trust them to investigate themselves,” says Black Lives Matter organizer Katt McKinley. 

McKinley says community members must have a seat at the table as the agency moves forward.

“Make sure we're being involved when policies are being made,” says McKinley.

“I think they should be fired and I think the actual officer that was doing the punching should go to prison,” says demonstrator Liz Curtis. She is not confident three separate investigations will lead to true reform.

“We'll see what the outcome is,” says Curtis. “That will tell all.”

[SPECIAL SECTION: Mesa PD use of force]

Valley civil rights attorney Anthony Ramirez, who attended the demonstration, says Chief Batista must remove the “virus” in his department. Ramirez says law enforcement can develop an "us versus them" mentality.

“If you're on the wrong side of that thin blue line you better watch out,” says Ramirez. “And I don’t think that’s indicative of every officer.”

Ramirez says Chief Batista’s focus on reform is a “step in the right direction.”

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