SIERRA VISTA — Councilwoman Kristine Wolfe continued her push for more discussion of certain Sierra Vista Police Department policies at Thursday’s City Council meeting after three residents spoke in support of the procedures.
In early June at a City Council work session, Wolfe mentioned that she wanted to have a conversation about choke holds, knee holds and police shooting at moving cars. She said she did not think the department needed the policies.
While the procedures are not banned by the Sierra Vista Police Department, Police Chief Adam Thrasher said they are only authorized if “the life of an officer or a third party are in danger.”
Three citizens spoke directly to Wolfe about her comments during Thursday’s call to the public.
All three, who praised the police department, told the councilwoman that the procedures she disagrees with should not be eliminated from the police force.
One of the three individuals also mentioned George Floyd, the Minneapolis man whose death at the hands of police last month has sparked worldwide protests.
When it was time for council members to make their statements at the end of the meeting, Wolfe, who was the first to speak, addressed the comments.
“I’m really concerned that people think that the life of one man doesn’t matter and how he died doesn’t matter. That’s really concerning,” Wolfe said, referring to Floyd.
Wolfe told the audience that she is not against police and recounted her time as a prosecutor, when she worked alongside law enforcement. She also lost friends when officers she knew were killed, she said.
But she said that discussions about certain issues with police should take place.
“We allow them to police us….but we need to make sure that we agree with what they’re doing, and that we can fully support them in everything that they are doing,” she said. “And I don’t understand why a discussion is so scary to people.”
“These are discussions we have to have and if we’re afraid to have these discussions because we might be offending our police officers, well then I think that’s sort of a problem,” she said.
Following the death of Floyd, Wolfe sent Thrasher a “council inquiry” asking the police chief if the agency has a de-escalation policy, whether recruits are trained on de-escalation procedures, how long are they trained, and if the policy — if one exists — is given to recruits.
While he explained to Wolfe in his response that all three procedures are used only in “deadly force situations,” Thrasher also said, “SVPD believes banning this technique in situations when officers face potential death or serious physical injury places them in undue risk.”
Regardless of that, Wolfe said at the June 9 work session that she did not agree with the policies.
“...The use of chokeholds and knee holds, I’m willing to listen to more on that,” Wolfe said. “But I think it’s something as a policy that we don’t like and we don’t agree with.”
“And I would also agree and say that we should discuss the policy of being able to shoot at moving vehicles — I don’t think we should (shoot at moving vehicles,)” she said. “And this is something I think we should discuss as a council, as a policy issue.”
The City Council will hold a work session in July with Thrasher to further discuss the issues broached by Wolfe.