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Review Boards . . . Anti-Police Radicals No Longer Outsiders But Furrowing Into The Establishment 

June 2, 2021 Frontpage No Comments

By DEXTER DUGGAN

PHOENIX — Just as no one could have foreseen the drastic changes in life soon to be caused around the nation by the coronavirus as 2020 began, it would have been hard to imagine that an openly Marxist organization like Black Lives Matter would be holding sway in cities from coast to coast within a few months, but it did. 
A major target of BLM was to put cities’ police forces under its heel, and before long unimaginable demands by left-wing politicians popped up to defund or close police departments, even though poorer communities, which BLM affected to support, would suffer most without publicly provided security and investigations. 
To recognize the necessity for police wasn’t to believe that police officers always behaved properly. The opposite might well be true. But to think that something like Marxist-oriented BLM had the well-being of ordinary citizens at heart in metropolitan areas was beyond credibility.
A new, entirely civilian police review board narrowly was approved by the Phoenix City Council in mid-May, by a vote of 5-4, but legal challenges to the board, with its sweeping contemplated powers, were promised by its foes.
An adviser to conservative Republican Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio, who opposed the new ordinance, told The Wander-
er in a May 24 telephone interview this is “the most radical version of these types of boards in the United States.”
The adviser, Sam Stone, said the new board is to have subpoena power and the ability to look into whatever it wants, not only police conduct.
There don’t seem to be any limits on what “progressives” think they can do with their “racism” agenda, Stone said, adding that language for the ordinance forbids board members to be biased toward the police, but allows members to be biased against them. 
Also, he said, these non-city-employed board members will be given paid positions. He said Phoenix Vice Mayor Carlos Garcia and allies plan to bring aboard as many BLM members as they can. 
With a leftist flair for twisting language, the board is to be known as the Office of Accountability and Transparency (OAT).
“I think there are a number of potential lawsuits” here, Stone said, including concerning due process. 
Although a new Arizona state law was signed recently that requires police review boards to have two-thirds of their members as police, the law lacks an emergency clause so it doesn’t take effect while the state legislature remains in session, Stone said.
So, he said, that means the Phoenix City Council ordinance was grandfathered in. 
A proposed $400,000 funding for the board grew to $3 million, he said.
A Phoenix television report said that Democrat Mayor Kate Gallego, who favors the board, enthused, “This board is a national best practice that will help us really look at the research and modernize our department. Dialogue is important. That’s how communities improve. Research is important, and having an independent view will make us a stronger city.”
Pro-abortion Gallego is a left-wing Democrat, as is her ex-husband, Arizona Cong. Ruben Gallego. 
In a May 19 statement, Coun-
cilman DiCiccio said, in part, “Today’s vote was not about acting for accountability or transparency, but about handing over unlimited power to hate groups. 
“The defund the police movement is the real deal here in Phoenix,” DiCiccio said. “The vast majority of the community supports the police, versus this small group of 100 people. These radical anti-police protesters will not stop until they have destroyed the foundations of law and order in our city.
“I am so angry and embarrassed for our hardworking police officers, who put their lives on the line every day to protect us,” he said. “Mark my words, we will lose even more officers and put citizens’ lives in danger.” 
A report by cooperative television Channels 3 and 5 quoted Phoenix Vice Mayor Carlos Garcia saying, in part: “The testimonies we heard today from families impacted by police violence is exactly why we need this office. I am grateful for the community members who have long advocated for this change at the city.” 
However, the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association (PLEA), a public-sector union, said in part, according to the TV report: “We are extremely disappointed that the Phoenix City Council chose to ignore the concerns of local law enforcement and establish a new political entity that will continue the divisive narrative against our men and women in uniform.
“Our existing mechanisms provide civilian oversight with the opportunity to question officers in discipline review boards and use of force boards….Yet, this effort to create the Office of Accountability and Transparency is led by activist organizations that seek to eliminate our police department and implement their own progressive agenda,” the police statement said.
City Council member Ann O’Brien, who opposed this review board, said “there is no balance” in the way the ordinance is written.
“For example,” O’Brien said in a statement, “the ordinance states that the OAT is being mandated to employ a future director and staff members without any background in law enforcement or have family members who previously served in law enforcement.
“Essentially, we are creating an office that is supposed to work in tandem with our police department, yet not have ANY background or experience in how these types of investigations work or carried out,” she said. “How can an office designed to provide accountability and transparency by working with our police department function without any institutional knowledge?”
Citing the extensive review process already in place, O’Brien said it’s a misuse of taxpayer money to create another government arm for this purpose.
“The moment there’s an application of force by an officer, the incident is either investigated by the professional standards board or by the violent crimes bureau,” O’Brien said. “From there, the incident is either sent to the county attorney or forwarded to the use of force board, then to a disciplinary review board before ultimately going to a civil service board.
“That’s essentially five separate boards plus potentially being reviewed by the county attorney,” she said. “So why are we creating another department of government to perform what is already a detailed investigation process?”
Stone, the adviser to DiCiccio, told The Wanderer, “It’s really been a very dramatic shift” in the stands of big-city Democratic politicians. The more traditional type of Democratic city leaders valued law-and order-standards, but not now, he said.
He said that Greg Stanton, the former Phoenix Democratic mayor who resigned to run for Congress, which served to open up the mayoral spot for Gallego, was a more traditional Democrat — one whom Stone and DiCiccio could disagree with, but Stanton wasn’t like Gallego.
“It’s very difficult to recruit police these days,” given the current attacks on them, Stone said, while students are told police are “evil and dangerous.”
Poor communities don’t benefit when activists try to drive away the police who protect these neighborhoods, Stone said, because they have no one else to provide security, while rich and upper-class areas have other protection to turn to.
A New York Post editorial posted May 24 asked if cities “really want to double down on policies, like defunding police, that fuel the violence? 
“Some cities are doing just that, even as death tolls mount. St. Louis set a 50-year murder-rate record in 2020, yet its new mayor Tishaura Jones aims to take millions from the department and cut the force,” the Post editorial said. “Seattle sliced its 2021 police funding 20 percent and axed positions, though it, too, saw its highest homicide rate in decades.”

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