Home>Legal>DOJ Rejects Phoenix Request for Advanced Review of Takeover Bid

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego at an event titled "Elevate: Conservation and Water Management" at The Yard at Farmer Arts District in Tempe, Arizona, May 17, 2022. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

DOJ Rejects Phoenix Request for Advanced Review of Takeover Bid

Won’t let Mayor respond to report ahead of public announcement

By Steve Kirwan, December 11, 2023 4:17 pm

The DOJ has again refused Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego’s request to preview the results of a federal investigation into alleged police misconduct. In the continuing saga of the Biden administration’s attempts to take control of the Phoenix police department, the DOJ has essentially blackmailed Mayor Gallego by threatening to make their findings public before allowing the city to review and reply unless the city signs a consent decree allowing federal oversight of the department.

In response to this second refusal, the Mayor’s spokesperson, Arielle Devorah, reacted to the DOJ’s two-time rejection at a recent news conference. “For more than 27 months now, the City has been transparent and open with the Department of Justice, providing it with what it needs to complete the investigation. We hope the Department will act similarly and provide the city the opportunity to review its report and provide factual corrections.”

In a statement, northwest Phoenix D1 Councilwoman Ann O’Brien denounced the DOJ’s second denial. “I’m asking for a minimum of 30 days. Phoenix has been transparent and collaborative, now it’s time for the DOJ to do the same.”

Throughout the investigation, dating back to 2022, the City has argued that it has a right to review the findings prior to their public release to correct any potential inaccuracies. In two separate letters to the DOJ, attorney Michael Bromwich, hired by the city to represent its interests in the DOJ investigation, wrote, “The purpose of such access would be to identify factual errors in the report rather than contesting DOJ’s interpretation of the facts.”

His letter stated that factual errors “cast a cloud of doubt over the entire set of findings and make discussions about next steps more difficult because they create mistrust among both rank and file police officers and members of the Phoenix community.”

Two months later, DOJ Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke replied, “It is not our practice.” Her letter continued, “We do not plan to change our practice regarding any findings report that we may issue regarding the Phoenix investigation. We do expect to maintain the open lines of communication with you and your client that have facilitated the investigation.”

In a letter to the Mayor, the Phoenix police and fire unions, three city employee unions, and two neighborhood groups stated that it was time to “part ways with the DOJ’s unlimited access to the Phoenix Police Department, and officially inform them there will not be a consent decree agreement with the City of Phoenix.”

Citing cost estimates in the millions from multiple other cities that signed similar consent decrees, the city groups are concerned over the potential loss of funding and loss of autonomy. The letter represents an escalation of pressure for Mayor Gallego to refuse the consent decree.

On December 4, 2023, the AZ House Republicans drafted a letter initiated by Representative David Marshall Sr. (R7) and signed by another 20, recommending that Gallego refuse DOJ control and reject any attempt by the Biden DOJ to take over the department.

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