The Tucson Police Department is making changes to better serve the community. The changes come in the wake of protests, growing anti-law enforcement attitudes and shootings that killed eight officers in just two weeks.
"I think it's a tough time to be a police officer but it's never really been an easy job at any point in our history," said Chief of Police Chris Magnus. "We've gone through rough patches before where officers have really been challenged in terms of doing their job. T think I'm fortunate that I work with a great team of officers who are smart, well trained, resilient and ready to take on the challenges that go with constitutional policing."
Chief Magnus recently penned a letter to his officers where he thanked them for their work and touched on the future of the department.
The letter said, in part, "They're working to make the complaint process more timely and efficient, improve training in procedural justice and de-escalation tactics, be as accountable as possible in tracking and evaluating the use of force and do more to recruit a diverse pool of well qualified candidates."
Use of force continues to be a controversial issue across the country as many claim lives have been unnecessarily taken at the hands of law enforcement. Here in Tucson, 30-year-old Abraham Smith was shot and killed by a TPD officer north of downtown. Police say he was armed with two knives and was mentally ill. That shooting came just one day after police officers in Dallas were ambushed by a sniper, leaving 5 dead and 7 injured.
"We've done our best to model our use of force policy based on ways we can effectively train our officers to use the right tool, technique or tactic for a given situation," said Magnus. "Obviously we want to use the least amount of force to overcome resistance and sometimes that changes quickly. So, that can be difficult. Officers can think that they're dealing with one situation and think that they're going to communicate with somebody, they're going to be able to take someone into custody without any problems. Things can change very fast. It comes back to training, good supervision, good community support and accountability which is really important and going to be a recurring theme. We believe we use force appropriately and we're willing to be held accountable for the decisions we make."