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Phoenix Sues Arizona Over Budget Add-Ons

The city of Phoenix wants the state of Arizona to butt out of its long-fought effort to enact civilian oversight over law enforcement.

Phoenix is suing over state mandates to its recently created police accountability office of Accountability and Transparency.

Court records say nearly 90 people have applied to become director of the Office of Accountability and Transparency, which was approved in May by the Phoenix City Council.

But none of the candidates are qualified under a new state order that a police officer be in charge of police oversight. City ordinance forbids the accountability office director and staff from having worked as police.

Hear Matthew Casey's Interview With Host Steve Goldstein On The Show

phoenix-sues-az-show-sg-mc-20210818.mp3

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego said state lawmakers illegally passed the requirement and others as attachments to a budget bill that passed in June.

“This is overreach at its worst and the city of Phoenix is standing up for our residents,” she said.

Phoenix’s timeline for staffing the police accountability office is threatened by the state requirement as court records say Phoenix plans to hire a director in October or November.

Gallego said the city went through a yearslong process to create the office. 

“And then overnight the Legislature has stuck items in the budget to override local control. We are deeply concerned about that,” she said.

The Arizona Attorney General’s Office told KJZZ in an email statement on Wednesday morning: "We are in the process of reviewing the lawsuit. Our office will continue to defend the state in court."

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Matthew Casey has won Edward R. Murrow awards for hard news and sports reporting since he joined KJZZ as a senior field correspondent in 2015.