Phoenix Officials Pushing for Body Cameras for All Patrol Officers

Body cameras for all Phoenix police officers might be on their way. Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton and Councilwoman Thelda Williams have asked for all patrol officers to wear body cameras in the next three years.

However, this request comes with an expensive price tag. Last year, Phoenix Police Chief Joe Yahner said equipping police officers with body cameras would cost more than $3.5 million.

Despite the high price, Stanton and Williams are asking for the proposal to move forward due to the camera’s success in the Maryvale precinct.

In a memo to City Manager Ed Zuercher, Williams and Stanton said:

“In the areas where cameras were used, Phoenix saw significant drops in complaints against officers, more effective processing of cases in court and improved evidence in the prosecution of domestic-violence cases.”

If the proposal passes, behavior among police officers might improve. With the potential to make police officers more trustworthy and transparent, body cameras seem ideal. The body cameras seem a natural fit in the courtroom as well. In court, it’s usually the police officer’s word versus the defendant’s testimony. With body cameras on every officer, cases could change for defendants in the Valley. By using video evidence, cases will become clearer since video footage will be available for review.

Putting body cameras on all police officers could move Phoenix toward a new generation of policing by building trust between the officers and the communities they serve.

Paradise Valley Drone Ordinance on Par with New FAA Regulations

Soon after Paradise Valley passed a drone ordinance of its own, the first of its kind in the Valley, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced new regulations for drone owners, and now council members in Phoenix are weighing drone restrictions for the city.

Residents of Paradise Valley are allowed to use drones privately on their own property without restrictions, but are not allowed to use the devices on private property without permission. Those who do so could be charged with trespassing.

In terms of commercial use, the Paradise Valley ordinance states that Arizonans must register their devices with police first, a rule that aligns with the FAA’s new drone regulations.

The FAA requires registration on a government website for all drones weighing more than .5 pounds. A unique identification number will be issued, which then must be written or attached to registered devices.

Officials from the FAA hope these restrictions will minimize an inundation of drones and keep drone owners accountable for their use of this technology, while others, including officials from the Academy of Model Aeronautics, said these regulations cause unnecessary burden to drone owners, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Phoenix City Council is considering proposed rules regarding the uses of unmanned aircraft systems within the city, as well as guidelines for how Phoenix agencies should use drones, according to The Arizona Republic.

The proposed ordinance by Councilmen Sal DiCiccio and Michael Nowakowski focuses on protecting privacy and limiting government surveillance.

Sections of the proposed regulations include prohibiting:

  • Operating a drone within five miles of an airport without permission.
  • Using a drone as a weapon or operating a drone recklessly, including the usage of these devices to kill birds or animals.
  • The usage of a drone to knowingly record or view another person without consent in situations prohibited by state law.

Regulations for drone use are still very new. Depending on what city council members in Phoenix decide, these rules could be a helpful tool in protecting privacy and ensuring public safety or they could interfere with development of drone technology.

Fighting Crime with Social Media

Police around the country are using instant messages, text conversations, posts, photos, videos and more to aid criminal investigations, in addition to creating their own department accounts to reach their communities with alerts and updates.

Such investigation methods have come a long way since the days when phone records, followed by text messages and then emails proved to be powerful evidence as police investigations evolved over time. Today, communication and information sharing goes beyond calls and texts with social media, and police departments are utilizing this technology as a tool for fighting crime.Social Media and Crime

When a South Carolina man was shot in 2013, police used his personal social media account to find that he was recently feuding with two men online.

With that information, police were able to gather a list of suspects as well as potential witnesses who saw the conversations and posts, Greenville Online reports.

Using this information in accordance with video surveillance footage from a nearby building where the shooting took place, police put together the start of an investigation using social media as the building blocks.

Traditionally popular social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter aren’t the only helpful online resources for police, although they are the most frequent with 92 percent of departments using Facebook and 65 percent on Twitter, a 2013 social media survey by the International Association of Chiefs of Police found.

Pinterest helped a California police department re-unite a woman with jewelry stolen from her home during a burglary in 1983. The bracelet, with the names and birthdates of the woman’s three children, was discovered thanks to posts on the department’s Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest page for recovered property.

Police departments are also creating their own social media profiles to keep in touch with their communities. The City of Phoenix Police Department, for example, posts breaking news, alerts, safety tips and more on its Facebook page to keep residents informed.

In some instances, social media helped build a relationship between police and the community. USA Today reports that posts have brought residents and officers together online to identify photos of suspects, name shoplifters and find the owners of lost pets.

In fact, the same 2013 the International Association of Chiefs of Police survey found that more than 73 percent of law enforcement agencies believe social media has improved community relations.


Phoenix Turns to Pay Cuts as a Way to Avoid Reducing Fire and Police Department Services

Could payroll cuts help keep Phoenix police offers on the street? Phoenix’s city manager thinks so.

In May, Phoenix City Manager Ed Zuercher’s proposal to cut pay and benefits cut for all city employees by a 1.6 percent as a way to manage Phoenix’s budget was voted on and approved by several emergency worker unions.

These “shared sacrifices,” as Zuercher said in The Arizona Republic, have been put into effect to save Phoenix from an egregiously out of control budget without reducing the size of the police or firefighter force, which can lead to a miscellany of other issues. Phoenix City Manager Ed Zuercher

For example, in 2011 Sacramento made large cuts to its police department, and the city saw significant increases in crime. From 2011 to 2012, shootings went up by 48 percent. Rapes, robberies, aggravated assaults, burglaries and vehicle thefts also increased, The New York Times said.

Similarly, Professional Fire Fighters of Arizona President Bryan Jeffries, has suggested a plan that also reduces firefighter and police officer compensation by asking them to voluntarily cut their pensions to save the city money and to repair a flawed retirement program.

Jeffries plan asks emergency workers to be the main voice when it comes to determining how pensions are reduced. For this to happen, he is currently trying to get a vote on a Constitutional amendment to prevent lawmakers from producing even more drastic changes in the future. This would quell the fears of police officers and firefighters who worry that their pay and pensions could be reduced too severely.

Although many workers are not pleased with the implemented pay cuts, others have accepted the sacrifice.

“We weren’t willing to cut everyone else so we could get a raise,” fire union President Pete Gorraiz said according to The Republic. “Nobody wants to take cuts, but we understand the fiscal realities.”

Smaller police departments could mean increased crime rates. Phoenix reduced city employee pay and benefits rather than cutting workers and limiting important public services.

Know Your Rights When Police Misconduct Strikes

With numerous police misconduct and brutality cases throughout Arizona and the U.S., citizens should know when they are being taken advantage of by the law.

A Phoenix police officer with a history of misconduct resigned amid an investigation after he was arrested recently for criminal sexual conduct for having sex with a minor.

This was not the first time former officer Justin LaClere has drawn negative attention to himself. In 2010, he pulled over a Valley woman for dim headlights, pulled her out of her car at gunpoint and placed her in handcuffs for a DUI that she stated was bogus.

The woman, Ayensa Millian, said LaClere was aggressive and she felt harassed and violated. Shortly thereafter, Millian fought the multiple DUI charges that she was accused of and sued the City of Phoenix and LaClere. The court dismissed all charges and she earned $25,000 in the settlement.

LaClere is just the latest incident of police officer misconduct to be uncovered in Phoenix. In November, a Tempe cop was the subject of an investigation after allegedly having an affair with a drug dealer she was investigating in an undercover operation.

Officer Jessica Dever-Jakusz was investigating the sale of drugs on Mill Avenue while undercover. According to reports, she purchased drugs multiple times from the same drug dealer, and a romantic relationship ensued.Jessica Dever-Jakusz

During that period, Dever-Jakusz told her lover she was a police officer and about the ongoing undercover investigation. Shortly after, an anonymous tip regarding the officer’s conduct was submitted to Tempe Police.

The officer is now facing charges of hindering a crime investigation, and possible criminal charges.

Police misconduct happens more frequently than many realize. While some people are aware of their basic rights, many are not.

To prevent the harmful results of police misconduct, it is essential to have an expert attorney on your side. Whether you need advice or legal assistance, the Arizona criminal defense attorneys at the Law Office of Corso Law Group can protect and defend your rights.

Call (480) 471-4616 to speak with one of our expert attorneys or to schedule a free consultation.