Interim Phoenix police chief talks plans for future, Justice Dept. investigation

“This desire is for more training...I think the years of the pandemic where we didn’t get to do in-person scenario training,” Chief Sullivan said.
Published: Nov. 22, 2022 at 9:43 AM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - New interim Phoenix police chief Michael Sullivan is only a few months on the job, assuming the role amid a Justice Department investigation. An officer shortage and violence against police officers is sparking his desire to make a positive change.

“This desire is for more training... I think the years of the pandemic where we didn’t get to do in-person scenario training,” Chief Sullivan said. “That training was very successful previously and I look forward to bringing in a national group and really enhancing the scenario-based training that we’ve had in the past.” He said he believes that every city is unique and that police reform and fighting can co-exist.

As per a Phoenix Police Department press release, the chief has developed a four-pronged plan for the city’s policing efforts.

  • Reinforced patrol briefing training on time, distance, and cover--mandatory briefings, best tools and procedures
  • Arranging for national best practice scenario-based training on de-escalation--ICAT, PERF and other scenario-based trainings
  • Reviewing the Department’s Use of Force policy--analyzing policies to keep gold standard in law enforcement policies
  • Expanding the Department’s less lethal program--12 officers a week trained on less lethal tools like PepperBall, equip 400 officers with less lethal options before end of 2023, 200 PepperBall devices and 200 40mm impact launchers

“Constitutional policing is the way policing should be done,” he said. “We’ll work continue to work very, very hard to implement change here.” With regard to staffing, the interim chief said he’s aware it will continue to be a challenge. “I have to thank the council and mayor to have the courage to have Phoenix police officers be the highest-paid policing staff in the state of Arizona,” he said.

Violence against police officers is rising and the Chief said he believes that training and equipping staff is the key to reducing incidents. “We have to make sure we have the personnel on the street to deal with situations effectively,” he said. “Regardless of what the staffing looks like, we have to handle each situation and make sure that officers do it correctly as they go forward.”

According to the release, Mayor Kate Gallego said, “Chief Sullivan has led reform and modernization in major cities. I am optimistic for the future of Phoenix Police and look forward to continued work with the Chief to make Phoenix an even safer city.” She added that she believes he will bring out the best in public safety from the officers.

The Justice Department Investigation is continuing to move forward, and Chief Sullivan believes that policing should be a self-adjusting, self-correcting agency. This investigation will...help us give better service to the city of Phoenix,” he said.