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Video: Interim Phoenix chief speaks out on increase of officer-involved shootings

Interim Police Chief Michael Sullivan said there is an increasing level of violence within the community

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Fox 10 Phoenix/YouTube

By Bill Carey

PHOENIX — As of March 8, 2023, Phoenix had more officer-involved shootings than the same time in 2022. From January 3 to March 8, there have been nine officer-involved shootings.

The review of shootings comes as the department is being investigated by the Department of Justice over use-of-force incidents, Fox 10 reported. Fox 10 spoke with Phoenix’s interim police chief, Michael Sullivan, about the number of shootings and the creation of an Office of Accountability and Transparency that monitors and reviews critical incident investigations.

“I wish I could put a finger on exactly what it is. I think it’s a combination of addiction, mental health challenges and availability of firearms,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan said in five of the officer-involved shootings, guns were pulled on officers by people who shouldn’t have even had them. “It’s been a tough two weeks,” Sullivan said. “The amount of deadly force certainly is more than I’ve experienced throughout my career, during the last two weeks. We have thousands of interactions every day that end up with good outcomes. Good outcomes for officers, good outcomes for the citizens that we are engaged with.”

Fox 10 contacted the Phoenix Law Enforcment Association for a response and they issued a statement, part of which highlights the armed threat to officers in these shootings:

“It is important to remember that each of these situations has their own unique circumstances and facts. Of those mentioned, six suspects pulled handguns on officers and were met with a lethal response. In other situations the suspects had other deadly weapons and were advancing toward officers. Less lethal options were utilized but were unsuccessful in gaining compliance, leaving the officer with no other options to defend themselves from this imminent violent attack. This includes one suspect who had just stabbed one family member and was brutally murdering his wife when the officer arrived. Our officers have the right to return home to their families in the same condition that they reported for duty. The community must demand that the violence being used against our officers ends immediately.”

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