Violent protests in Missouri: could it happen in Phoenix?

Violent protests in Missouri: could it happen in Phoenix?

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PHOENIX (KSAZ) -

Violent protests have continued in Ferguson, Missouri and armed police remain in the streets as they try to keep the peace. 

What are Phoenix Police doing to make sure we don't have a similar situation like this in our city.

The department has a strategy; years of working in the community and building a relationship before an issue happens.

You'll see him at every protest and rally in the City of Phoenix.

"Whether it's PALS for animal rights, whether it's the Bosnian's, whether its the Iraqi protest that occurred the other day, pro life, pro choice," said Gerald Richard.

Gerald Richard is an assistant to Phoenix Chief of Police Daniel Garcia. He's a liaison between the community and the Phoenix Police Department. He listens to concerns and then reports back to the chief.

"The community needs to feel as though there is someone they can call, I'm not sworn; I'm a civilian just like you," he said.

Richard's job is to make sure tensions in Phoenix never hit a boiling point like in Ferguson, Missouri.

"I was 13 years-old when Dr. Martin Luther King Junior was shot, and I remember how Chicago was filled with riots that occurred there. When I came here that was one of the things I swore, I prayed to god would never happen here in Phoenix," said Richard.

Gerald helps people organize safe protests like today's protest outside of City Hall.

"I would say that's a good thing if he's really here and getting our concerns, he is actually talking to the people, he can bring the proper information out to the correct people," said Tatum Turner.

Phoenix Police also sends plainclothes detectives to each rally to help keep the peace; they're called the community response squad.

"Individuals can express themselves, and to be able to feel that they can do that without the concern of having officers in tactical gear," he said.

The police department has eight community advisor boards for minority groups including one for Muslims, Sikhs, Hispanics, and Blacks. Richard says it's crucial to build a foundation for dialogue instead of violence.

"It's one of the things I sincerely hope for as far as Ferguson, one day they'll be able to reach as well, but it's going to take time," said Richard.

The Phoenix Police Department also has several outreach programs including coffee with a cop and shop with a cop.

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