New Phoenix Police Tools For President Trump’s Campaign Visit

Published: Tuesday, February 18, 2020 - 1:55pm
Christina Estes/KJZZ
Sign at the front of Phoenix police headquarters.

Phoenix police have new tools and a new plan since President Trump’s last visit to the city ended in a controversial cloud of pepper spray.

The Department of Public Safety is handling law enforcement inside the state-owned Arizona Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum for Wednesday night’s campaign event while Phoenix police are preparing for crowds outside the venue near 19th Avenue and McDowell Road.

Nearly every Phoenix police officer working the event will be wearing cameras — technology not in place during Trump’s 2017 visit. Sgt. Mercedes Fortune said they should be recording continuously. 

“If I am at the Free Amendment — or the Amendment zone is — I will have my body worn camera on, if I’m engaging with a community member at this event my camera will be on, especially related to questions or anything that’s going on with the incident itself,” she said.

The department also has two new long-range acoustic devices. In 2017, when police ordered a crowd to disperse, many people said they heard no warning before officers deployed pepper spray and non-lethal projectiles. The new audio system will emit tones followed by instructions in English and Spanish. 

Fortune said the devices will be used to declare an unlawful assembly if police determine a group is engaged in criminal activity and posing a danger to others.  

“We’re going to give you time to leave, we’re going to give you opportunity in different ways, we’re going to give directions but we definitely want you to leave,” she said. “You cannot be on private property and you cannot be on sidewalks or roadways.”

Phoenix created a webpage devoted to event information. The DPS advised people to plan for potentially long lines and heavy pedestrian traffic. More information about the event location, parking and entrances is here.

What follows is information provided by Phoenix as part of presidential visit plans.

What is an Unlawful Assembly?

An Unlawful Assembly is when a group of people are involved in criminal activity and are posing a danger to themselves or others. The incident commander makes this determination to protect the security and safety of everyone in the area. When possible, those in the vicinity will hear a message over a loud speaker and given time to disperse. There may be situations where immediate police intervention is needed. People who fail to follow the instructions may be subject to arrest. We want everyone to understand the message coming via the speaker. It will be delivered in both English and Spanish and will be replayed repeatedly.

In an effort to make the entire crowd aware of the need to disperse, the officer will say something similar to this:

“I am ___ (name) ___, a police officer for the City of Phoenix. I hereby declare this to be an unlawful assembly in the name of the People of the State of Arizona and command all persons so assembled at ___ (location) ___ to immediately and peacefully disperse. Arizona Revised Statute 13-2902 prohibits remaining present at an unlawful assembly and if you do not disperse, you will be subject to arrest."

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