Phoenix Police unveils new use of force policy, still seeking public feedback

The Phoenix Police Department recently made big changes to its use of force policy, which details what circumstances use of force is and isn’t justified.
Published: Jun. 13, 2023 at 5:18 PM MST|Updated: Jun. 13, 2023 at 6:18 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Police officers using force has been a contentious topic nationwide, including in Phoenix. The Phoenix Police Department recently made significant changes to its use of force policy, which details what circumstances use of force is and isn’t justified.

There are 44 changes in the new use of force policy. Many include more precise language, such as making it more apparent to officers and the public when, how, and why deadly force is used.

Phoenix Police say they hope this builds trust in the community. However, others say it’s only a start. “We received over 800 comments or tips that have contributed to all these changes we have. And they’ve been reviewed by a panel of officers,” said Sgt. Philip Krynsky.

Since January, Phoenix Police have been drafting their new use of force policy and relying on public comment. “It’s really a collaborative effort both for our employees and for our community,” Krynsky said. “Making sure that it is something everyone is going to understand and that it is clear-cut to our employees. And making sure they’re also going to get that type of training to make these changes.”

It also outlines other factors that must be present, like threats being active when force is used. “I think it’s commendable. Some of the changes that they are making,” said Quacy Smith of Smith and Green Attorneys at Law.

Smith, an attorney, represents the family of Ali Osman. Osman was throwing rocks at officers when he was shot and killed by Phoenix Police. Those officers did not face charges. “Put more less-than-lethal means in their hands and I think this policy could become effective,” Smith said.

The Maricopa County Attorney's Office declined to charge the three officers and said 34-year-old Ali Osman "posed a serious threat" day.

While hopeful this policy could reduce deadly force, Smith still has doubts. “You can’t only put a policy in place; you have to train the officers and make sure they are aware,” he said. “You still have a problem when it comes to holding officers accountable.”

Since 2021, the Department of Justice has been investigating Phoenix Police for claims of excessive force by officers. This draft comes just a few months after interim Chief Michael Sullivan took office.

These policies are not final, and the department is seeking more feedback from the public before making them permanent. If you’d like to weigh in, you have until June 23. Click or tap here for the feedback form.

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