Tempe Police Revise Use-Of-Force Policies After Summer Protests

By Austin Fast
Published: Friday, January 15, 2021 - 5:36pm
Updated: Monday, March 22, 2021 - 12:41pm
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Tempe has become the first city in Maricopa County to align its police department’s use-of-force policies with a national campaign called Eight Can’t Wait.

The advocacy organization Campaign Zero has been urging police departments nationwide to adopt this set of eight policies since the death of George Floyd and the subsequent Black Lives Matter protests last summer.

The goal is prevent civilian deaths at the hands of law enforcement officers. The eight policies include things like banning chokeholds and requiring officers to intervene when colleagues are getting too violent.

Over 300 cities nationwide have added some or all of these policies since last June, as protesters have increased demands for police reform. At Tempe's 2021 Martin Luther King Diversity Award Ceremony on Friday afternoon, Mayor Corey Woods called these eight policies commonsense solutions that support both citizens and police.

"It is imperative that we move forward together," Woods said. "I fully believe that you can support public safety and also see the need to evaluate policies and practices for continuous improvement.”

The changes also follow an incident on Aug. 29, 2020, when Officer Ronald Kerzaya was found to have violated department policies by holding an African-American employee at gunpoint at the Hawthorne Suites hotel on Southern Avenue in Tempe.

“I understand that my actions have caused a tremendous amount of anguish for many different people, and I cannot convey enough how remorseful I am for my actions and the aftermath that so many people have been forced to deal with and continue to deal with to this day,” Kerzaya wrote upon later reflection

At the time, Interim Police Chief Jeff Glover promised to add additional levels of review for use-of-force incidents and ensure his entire department took de-escalation training by 2021's end in partnership with Arizona State University. 

The city of Tucson already had all Eight Can't Wait policies in place last summer, and the cities of Phoenix, Mesa, Chandler and Gilbert have all added at least one of these policies since then.

See other cities who have changed their policies since June 2020 in the map below. 

Social Justice