TUCSON, Ariz. — Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus says what happened to George Floyd is horrific and he has been taking steps for years to keep tragic situations like the scene in Minneapolis from happening in Tucson.
Since the death of Floyd protesters have been marching and chanting to make their voices heard about the issue police brutality.
Tucson resident Alonzo Bailey says it’s good to have police interacting with the public to answer questions about issues in the community.
“They see this image of police officers on TV and it's not a good look for them. The opportunity for them to come to a park and talk to actual police officers is a good way to start a conversation with today’s youth,” Bailey said.
Those are the voices Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus wants to hear. He’s getting feedback from the public online and in person about what they want to see on their streets. He also says for the most part protesters were peaceful.
“People in the community are concerned about how force is used. We got to a point where our officers were having good dialogue with these folks. We were handing out water having positive conversations. There are some who don’t want to engage in that way,” Magnus said
The department is one of only two in the country following a set of policy reforms created by a group of activists and researchers called "Campaign Zero." The group works to keep track of excessive force policies and accountability across the country.
"We’ve worked hard to develop what we think are the best practice and evidence-based policies related to use of force,” Magnus said.
Some of the solutions include, only using deadly force when lives are in danger and there’s no other option, give verbal warnings before using deadly force, use de-escalation tactics whenever possible to resolve tense situations, ban chokeholds and hog-tying during transport, require officers to stop other officers who are using excessive force and report police killings and use of excessive force to a national database.
When it comes to the protests the chief says officers are doing the best they can. He also says important conversations with the community will continue for years to come.
“It's very difficult to do sometimes especially sometimes when you have obscenities yelled 12 inches from your face for hours on end. I really need to appreciate what a great job the officers at the Tucson Police Department have done,” Magnus said.
Link to Campaign Zero for police reform guidelines: https://www.joincampaignzero.org/ [joincampaignzero.org]