The Phoenix City Council recently approved an ordinance establishing the new Office of Accountability and Transparency (OAT). The OAT will have the ability to conduct independent investigations into the conduct of the city’s police department.
The council first approved the establishment of OAT in February 2020. The recent vote approves the governing language outlining the duties of the office. Council members previously approved funding for the new office.
The role of OAT includes monitoring or investigating members of the Phoenix Police Department. The new office may also provide recommendations for training, policy, and disciplinary actions.
According to the approved language, the role of the OAT is to ensure complaints against officers are handled fairly and objectively, including a thorough and fair investigation.
“The testimonies we heard from families impacted by police violence is exactly why we need this office,” says Vice Mayor Carlos Garcia. “I am grateful for the community members who have long advocated for this change at the city. I am also thankful to the Mayor and Councilwomen Ansari, Guardado and Pastor for voting for this. The work continues and I hope you will continue to engage our office and the city in the implementation of this office.”
The next step in establishing the OAT will be to hire a director. OAT staff cannot have been in law enforcement previously or be the family member of law enforcement. There will be community involvement in the hiring process.
Once hired, the OAT director and staff members will monitor or investigate use of force, in-custody deaths, and other community complaints, and then make recommendations on whether the investigation was sufficient, along with any suggested discipline or needed policy changes.
Regular reports from the office will be available publicly as part of the city’s transparency efforts designed to educate and inform the community.