Beginning today, a group of prominent residents will analyze how Phoenix manages police-brutality complaints ranging from harassment to race-related civil-rights abuses. It is a 45-member task force of civic leaders, city officials and community watchdogs, reports the Arizona Republic. By October, the group hopes to have a firm sense of how residents’ perceptions of police match statistics provided by the Police Department.
The task force was established after the March incident in which an officer handcuffed City Councilman Michael Johnson during a predawn scuffle. The city’s lone African-American council member claimed the 27-year-old white officer violated his civil rights, an allegation that prompted dozens of south Phoenix residents to share similar experiences. Police got 178 excessive-force complaints in 2008 and 2009, though Johnson and some residents believe other complaints go unreported.