Arizona House Republicans Urge Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego Against ‘Relinquishing Local Control’ of Police With Federal Consent Decree

Mayor Kate Gallego

Arizona State Representative David Marshall (R-Snowflake) led a group of 20 Republican lawmakers in a letter urging Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego not to enter into a consent decree with the Department of Justice (DOJ), warning it would “turn control” of the Phoenix Police Department (PPD) “over to the federal government.”

Reports indicate Gallego is considering whether to sign a potential consent decree, even as Phoenix City Council signals its potential opposition, and the move is opposed by Phoenix law enforcement groups.

A consent decree would allow the DOJ to provide oversight for the police department, The Center Square explained in October, including to determine whether officers are “following proper protocols, limiting misconduct from officers and keeping civil rights at the forefront of their operations.” Though a consent decree has not been publicly reported, multiple sources indicate such an agreement could be on the horizon.

In the letter, Marshall and 19 House Republicans warn about the DOJ using “consent decrees to remove local control from police departments in metropolitan cities” across the country, which they warn “has been disastrous for both the public safety of the residents in those cities and for taxpayers.”

The letter highlights the effects of the consent decree in Maricopa County, where they note both former Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Joe Penzone have “warned” about the impacts of the decree.

Penzone announced his decision to leave office early in October, and specifically blamed the consent decree for depleting “a considerable amount of resources in this office that could and should have been dedicated to public safety” during his tenure. Law Officer reported that consent decree requires Maricopa County to pay more than $200,000 per month to a federal monitor who lives in North Carolina.

The lawmakers warn that “any consideration” of such an agreement “could very well lead to a massive exodus in police officers,” before noting city’s existing shortage. They also highlighted constitutional concerns, warning that a consent decree could override Arizona’s state sovereignty.

After the DOJ launched an investigation of PPD shortly following President Joe Biden’s inauguration, Phoenix police announced plans to voluntarily change its limit use of force policy to focus on de-escalation.

Under the new guidance, officers are expected to use de-escalation strategies including “verbal persuasion, commands, and warnings,” “…waiting,” “using barriers,” creating distance, and withdrawing from the scene. It also mandates that “when employees use force, they shall exercise the utmost restraint,” and notes that “inappropriate use of force” could result in disciplinary action.

Though Phoenix’s mayor is not a partisan office, Gallego previously worked for the Arizona Democratic Party, and is the former wife of Representative Ruben Gallego (D-AZ-03), who is now running for U.S. Senate.

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Tom Pappert is the lead reporter for The Tennessee Star, and also reports for The Georgia Star News, The Virginia Star, and The Arizona Sun Times. Follow Tom on X/Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo Mayor Kate Gallego by City of Phoenix.


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