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A look into Yuma’s new regional task force that investigates officer shootings

YUMA, Ariz. (KYMA, KECY) - On April 12, The Yuma Police Department (YPD) released a statement following an officer involved shooting mentioning that the investigation is being turned over to the Yuma Regional Critical Incident Response Team, a newly formed critical incident bureau that investigates local police use-of-force incidents.

"I think the problem was perception - not in our region, but in different parts throughout the country there's a perception that police are trying to cover up," Chief Garrity said.

According to YPD, the following departments comprise the Yuma Regional Critical Incident Response Team:

  • Arizona Western College Police Department
  • Yuma County Sheriffs Office 
  • Wellton Police Department
  • Somerton Police Department 
  • San Luis Police Department 
  • Yuma Police Department 

Garrity says that each department appointed detectives to join this task force based on training and experience. 

"We felt that it is very important for transparency, for trust of the community that we are going to do a comprehensive and accurate investigation by bringing in others," Chief Garrity added.

In 2022, nine Southern Arizona law enforcement agencies in Pima County formed their own critical incident team called the Pima Regional Critical Incident Team.

Law enforcement leaders in Pima County cited House Bill 2650 that would require Arizona police agencies to independently investigate critical force incidents involving police officers by July 2025.

The proposed bill passed the Arizona House with bipartisan support in 2022 but never made it to the Senate floor and was not signed into law. 

Chief Garrity still cites this bill as a catalyst for the formation of Yuma’s new critical incident bureau and says a regional team was the best option available.

"One of the options that we had was for the Department of Public Safety to do it but we realized how far away we were from Phenix and that it would be a three or four hour travel time for that team to get down here," Garrity noted.

The members of the Yuma Regional Critical Incident Incident Response Team began specialized training in August 2023 and completed their capstone training this February. 

Article Topic Follows: Local News

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Zackary Moran-Norris

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