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Post-Trump Talk Dominates Phoenix Police Listening Session

Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams
(Photo by Mariana Dale - KJZZ)
“Listening sessions are for us to learn, listen, improve and put things into action," said Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams after her first community listening session on September 5, 2017.

The Phoenix Police department's actions at President Donald Trump’s rally last month dominated the conversation at a community listening session Tuesday night.

“I don’t expect that anything is going to be resolved in one night or in 12 listening sessions, but I think that it’s a start and I’m hopeful,” said Phoenix resident Rebecca Johnson after the event.

She was one of nine people who spoke up at the listening session.

There were plenty of empty seats in the crowd of about 30. It was a stark contrast to last week’s Phoenix City Council meetingwhere around 200 people commandeered the five plus hour meeting.

Johnson protested in downtown Phoenix the night of Trump’s rally. She said as a first-time demonstrator she was disappointed by how little warning protesters got before chemical agents were used to disperse the crowd.

“Honestly, personally I was let down because I thought the police were there to protect us and that Phoenix was going to be a better city than the rest of the cities before us,” Johnson said.

RELATED: Phoenix City Leaders, Advocacy Groups Respond To Post-Rally Chaos

This was Police Chief Jeri Williams’ first listening session since she started almost a year ago.

“Listening sessions are for us to learn, listen, improve and put things into action,” she said.

During the meeting Williams cited the department’s increased crisis intervention training as a result of last year’s conversations with the public. 

Williams said she wants to hear from the community, whether they’re happy with the department or not.

“I truly believe that a police department can’t serve people unless we know how they wish to be served,” Williams said.

Tuesday night was the first of of 13 listening sessions planned for September.

Mariana Dale rustles up stories as a senior field correspondent based out of KJZZ’s East Valley Bureau in Tempe. She’s followed a microphone onto cattle ranches, to the Dominican Republic and many places in between. Dale believes in a story’s strength to introduce us to diverse perspectives, inspire curiosity and hold public leaders accountable for their actions. She started at KJZZ on the digital team in 2016 and still spends a lot of time thinking about how to engage with our community online. Dale has learned from stints at Arizona Public Media, The Arizona Daily Star, The Arizona Republic and as an intern at NPR’s Morning Edition in Culver City. She graduated from the University of Arizona with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Dale is grateful for the mentoring of the New York Times Student Journalism Institute, the Chips Quinn Scholars program and AIR’s New Voices Scholars. A desert native, she loves spending time outside hiking, tending to her cactus and reading.