The question is not if law enforcement reform will come to Arizona and the country.
With the recent events that have occurred in Phoenix, Minneapolis, Atlanta, and the protests across the county, It undoubtedly will.
The real questions are when it will become law and to what extent this legislation (either in Arizona or in Congress) is an effective reform measure.
If he is elected to become the next Pima County Attorney, Jonathan Mosher promises to pursue and supervise effective law enforcement reform in his jurisdiction that protects all the members of the local community.
Mr. Mosher expressed his views on the law enforcement ideas and proposals that have emerged in Arizona and in Congress.
The questions and his responses are below.
- To what extent do you support the law enforcement ideas proposed by the Democrats in the Arizona State Legislature and in Congress? Please give two reasons.
“We should go further. We need an independent task force of trained investigators to handle investigations of officer-involved shootings. First, agencies should not investigate themselves. Second, many jurisdictions lack experience in investigating fatal use of force incidents. This is why we need to assemble a task force consisting of regional teams of trained investigators who adhere to a written statewide protocol.
“I also recommend legislation to create an independent statewide prosecution agency, instead of a single county attorney deciding whether to charge police officers with homicide. This will dramatically increase public trust in our system.”
“These cases must always be handled by the most experienced and qualified homicide prosecutors. For example, in the case of the murder of George Floyd, prosecutors who have handled domestic violence strangulation homicides should have recognized the need to charge premeditated first-degree murder. We consistently argue in such cases that murderous intent and premeditation are proven by the circumstances when a person is strangled for several minutes.”
“I speak regularly with good police officers at all ranks, from patrol officers to police chiefs. They all want bad cops held accountable. They want police to gain public trust. They promote solutions that will gain the confidence of the public they serve. For example, in my experience, police widely favor proposals for mandatory training in de-escalation and cultural sensitivity.”
“We should move away from the Nixon-era legal decision which severely restricted civil rights claims by expanding qualified immunity. Only officers who act reasonably and in good faith should be shielded by qualified immunity. Qualified immunity should not, as it does now, make it nearly impossible for legitimate lawsuits to proceed.”
“Body-worn cameras should be required on patrol officers, and patrol officers should be required to record interactions with the public. We will soon be facing a massive increase in the amount of body-worn camera recordings that need to be disclosed in criminal cases. State laws should be enacted that authorize prosecutors to disclose the footage to defense lawyers by placing it in digital cloud storage, with the prohibition on further dissemination without an opportunity to redact confidential information, such as the identity of a child victim, for example. This will significantly reduce unnecessary delays and costs in our criminal justice system.”
“Regarding proposed federal legislation, I support measures from House and Senate Democrats including a national registry to track police misconduct, a ban on chokeholds, implementation of a use of force continuum, and requiring body-worn cameras and anti-discrimination training. I would of course support this legislation at the state level as well.”
2) Is there a law enforcement idea missing from the proposals advanced by Democrats that you would champion? Please explain.
“I support an independent, statewide investigative task force and prosecution agency to handle officer-involved use of deadly force. We need new legislation to establish this. Our current system—in which a single, local elected official makes these decisions—will always engender criticism and mistrust. This statewide task force is a key step on the pathway to public trust in our criminal justice system.”
“Even if we fail to pass this new legislation, we can still significantly improve how we handle these cases. My first priority will be to implement a formal written protocol to govern how our office handles officer-involved shootings. I have advocated for the adoption of such a protocol since 2017, and, as County Attorney, I will finally have the ability to make this happen. We will use a collaborative process with input from police agencies, experts, community stakeholders, and defense lawyers to arrive at the best possible protocol.”
3) Please advise two ways you would work with police unions to achieve law enforcement reform in your county.
“We have a serious problem with police violence in our country. To solve it, we need good cops to speak up when fellow officers break the law. And of course, county attorneys must prosecute those offenses. We can start by getting all of the stakeholders in the criminal justice system at the same table. By doing this, we will bring a new era of collaboration and identify the best solutions. We cannot solve these problems of systemic racism without close collaboration with the communities we serve. Police unions should be eager to participate in this process because it will also make their officers safer and promote public trust.”
“I will work directly with unions to advocate for reform. We have seen promising first steps by the Tucson Police Department, with support from the Tucson Police Officer’s Association. These include banning chokeholds, de-escalation training, and six other policy changes proposed by Campaign Zero, which can be seen at 8cantwait.org. I also collaborated with TPOA leadership when I led our effort to implement a protocol governing the disclosure to defense counsel of information regarding officer misconduct or otherwise calling into question officer credibility.”
4) What is your reaction to what happened in Atlanta on Friday? Please explain.
“The death of Rayshard Brooks is heartbreaking. It was also avoidable. Deadly force must only be used to address immediate deadly risks. Watching the video, and having attended de-escalation training, it is easy to see how such training might have changed the outcome here. When the officer moved to handcuff Rayshard Brooks, he could have briefly and calmly explained why an arrest was necessary and what the next steps would be. Instead, in an interaction filled with tension, he moved suddenly to initiate physical contact.”
“The full day of de-escalation training I attended in November of 2019, courtesy of Sahuarita Police Chief John Noland, presented many examples showing how a different approach can change outcomes in these situations.”
Arizona and the rest of the country are moving forward in modernizing police conduct and the monitoring of law enforcement officer behavior.
If elected, Jonathan Mosher will endeavor to ensure both reforms occur.
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