- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 19, 2016

PHOENIX (AP) - The Phoenix Police Department says it considers Black Lives Matter as a partner to hold the force accountable, not a terrorist group.

Assistant Police Chief Mike Kurtenbach made the remarks during a crowded forum held by the Phoenix Black Lives Matter group at Phillips Memorial CME Church Monday night. He was responding to an attendee who asked why the group’s supporters are often criticized.

Mayor Greg Stanton told the audience of about 300 people that he envisions a diverse police force and will hire 400 Phoenix officers over the next two years.

Stanton encouraged people interested in improving policing to consider becoming an officer.

The Phoenix Black Lives Matter group is separate from the one that has held protests in the city on the past two Fridays.

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