Formation of Scottsdale PD, shortcomings in planning hampered response to mall looting


SCOTTSDALE, AZ – Police officers in Scottsdale have received new training on handling protests and riots following the looting of Scottsdale Fashion Square last year.

This is according to the city’s post-action civil unrest report, which ABC15 obtained through a request for public documents. An after action report is a critical summary and analysis of a major event, created to reassess decisions, find weaknesses, and consider alternatives for the future.

It was a bad night for security cameras to go on the fritz as rioters made their way into Scottsdale Fashion Square after 10 p.m. on May 30, 2020. According to the after-action report, Scottsdale Police may be monitoring at cameras away from the mall, but the system was down for hours that night. Failed communications limited the ability to locate looters and deploy agents.

As part of the review, officers in Scottsdale were asked whether they had received adequate training. Many responded that their training was insufficient or that it had taken place too long ago. In particular, the report mentioned the needs for the use of pepper bullets or grenadier ammunition, mobile field force, rapid response teams and attack teams.

Officers also said they needed new gas masks and shields.

The Scottsdale report revealed the failure of social media intelligence before the crowds gathered. The department’s existing surveillance system examined the keywords and failed to detect when protesters and looters cut and paste images promoting the event.

Supervisors had only prepared for 100 protesters that night, but hundreds of people turned out. When Scottsdale Police asked the Arizona Department of Public Safety for backup, the soldiers were initially unable to come because they were working to protect the Arizona State Capitol. No general call was made for all Scottsdale officers to attend.

In the year since the riot, Scottsdale has increased training, revamped communications functions, and revamped the way they collect information through social media and community contacts.

Police chief Alan Rodbell retired about six months after the unrest. He had been criticized, in part for the lack of arrests on the night of the looting. Rodbell had explained that the arrests were not given priority due to personnel and security concerns.

The after action report concluded that there had been significant property damage but no significant injuries during the looting and riots.

Scottsdale police eventually arrested 77 people and officers recovered more than $ 234,000 in property from the looting, according to the report.

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