The Phoenix Police Department has placed long time officer Steven Poulos on administrative leave after he threatened to shoot Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego over a potential reduction in the police department budget, according to The Arizona Republic. 

Poulos and six other officers were discussing the "defund the police" phrase when he made a statement in regards to Gallego.

"If the mayor defunds the police, I'm going to shoot her," Poulos told the group.

"You're not going to shoot the mayor," a sergeant said in response.

After an awkward silence, Poulos responded, "That's a promise."

The Arizona Republic was able to obtain police reports about the Oct. 21 incident thanks to an investigation done by police in Tempe, who was brought in at the request of the Phoenix Police Department. An internal affairs investigation was also opened into the incident.

Once the Phoenix Police Department made it clear to Poulos that it was taking what he said seriously, he sought to downplay the incident.

"I don't know why they make a bid (big) deal about it, it was just a joke," Poulos said in a police report, according to The Arizona Republic.

The Maricopa County Attorney's Office is now reviewing charges of making a terrorist threat and threatening or intimidating someone, both of which were suggested by the detectives from Tempe. 

The kind of rhetoric shared by Poulos has been popularized by the city's police union, which routinely criticizes Gallego and other city council members who call for oversight of the police. 

Despite the police language used to describe her, Gallego has raised the police budget in both of her years in office, according to The Arizona Republic.  

The city was beset by protests this summer, like most places, after the killing of George Floyd. Residents were fuming over the killings of Muhammad Abdul Muhaymin Jr. in Phoenix and Dion Johnson in Scottsdale.

The Phoenix Police Department has long struggled to keep its officers in check, as Blavity previously reported. The city was forced to pay a Black family an undisclosed settlement this year after an officer held them at gunpoint and violently detained a pregnant mother.  

The city also has a lengthy history of similar incidents and is routinely at the top of the list of cities with high numbers of police shootings each year.

Pheonix broke a record with 44 police shootings in 2018, and last year a wide-ranging report came out that found almost 100 officers within the force had used Facebook to spread racist, hateful messages about Black people.