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Concerns mount over possible DOJ consent decree over Phoenix Police

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Cameron Arcand

(The Center Square)– The United States Department of Justice could be looking to flex its oversight muscle with a possible consent decree over the Phoenix Police Department.

A consent decree is an agreement that the DOJ makes with a local law enforcement agency in order to make sure that they doing things such as following proper protocols, limiting misconduct from officers and keeping civil rights at the forefront of their operations.

For example, the Maricopa County Sheriff's Department has been under a court order since 2013, but 12 News reported Friday that they are still only at 90 percent compliance. Sheriff Paul Penzone took office in 2017 after taking over from Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and Penzone cited the hefty federal oversight stemming from Arpaio-era actions as a concern once he resigns from office next month. 

As for the city of Phoenix, it's unclear where the possibility stands that it will come under a consent decree, but Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell sounded the alarm at a Wednesday news conference. 

"I know that we're looking at another DOJ investigation into the city of Phoenix, and I'm not sure people understand how controlling that is and how much money that involves," Mitchell told reporters.

Mitchell later added that she has communicated with both Phoenix police and the DOJ about the matter.

"I have had communication with both, so I'm not gonna go into the details of it. But I have communicated with both of those parties," she said.

Phoenix PD released an update in August about the DOJ's investigation into the department, and they said that the federal government has requested evidence such as body camera footage.

"The city is preparing for any possible outcome from this investigation, but this work does not change our mission to serve the residents, visitors, and businesses of Phoenix," Interim Police Chief Michael Sullivan said in a video at the time.