Phoenix Police To Buy Audio Devices For Crowd Control, Protests

Published: Thursday, November 8, 2018 - 9:09am

The discussion about new audio devices for Phoenix police got pretty heated in council chambers Tuesday.

Some community members feel their concerns are being ignored, but Chief Jeri Williams told council members her department is listening — and taking action following a protest that turned violent during last year’s presidential visit.

“One of the things that I heard in many of the public meetings that we had after the Trump protest was the fact that the community members didn’t identify that, when they saw the tactical response unit line that something was going on,” she said.

Williams said two long-range acoustic devices would be used as communication tools. Tones would get the crowd’s attention, followed by instructions on how to disperse.

“So we look at this as a way to alert our community members that there is criminal activity going on, that if they would disperse,” she explained. “If they’re on this side of Jefferson we want you to disperse here. If you’re on this side of Washington we want you to disperse here.”

Several community members voiced concerns that the devices could be used as weapons, but Williams said policy language and training would prevent that.

The council approved the nearly $100,000 purchase and asked for an annual review of their use.

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