New acting police chief named after accusations of false kidnapping reports - Ahwatukee Foothills News: News

New acting police chief named after accusations of false kidnapping reports

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Posted: Thursday, March 3, 2011 5:12 pm | Updated: 5:51 pm, Fri Jun 24, 2011.

In a short press conference Thursday afternoon, City Manager David Cavazos announced Public Safety Manager Jack Harris will continue to "perform some of his duties, but some things will change" as reports of false kidnapping statistics are investigated.

The city manager named Joe Yahner as acting police chief while the city conducts a review of the kidnapping statistics mentioned in a 2009 grant request. Yahner will handle the day-to-day operations of the Phoenix Police Department.

"Questions have been raised during the last year about the precinct's kidnapping statistics and whether the numbers being used in a 2009 federal grant have been completely accurate," Cavazos said. "After many assurances that the numbers were accurate, it was unfortunate to learn Monday morning that some of the kidnapping statistics were mislabeled. I'm very, very sorry that this has happened."

Cavazos promised completed transparency as the city gathers experts in the field of criminology, statistics and law enforcement, as well as the city auditor to complete a 60-day review.

Assistant City Manager Ed Zuercher assured the public that no kidnapping numbers were falsified. He believes sloppy recording and mistakes may be to blame.

"I look forward to the final review and believe it will give the community independent assurance of the professionalism of the Phoenix Police Department and offer us ways to further our important processes," Zuercher said.

City Councilman Sal DiCiccio (R-Ahwatukee Foothills) says the city review is not enough.

"This review needs to be done entirely by an outside agency and not led, staffed or appointed by the city, whose own policies, procedures and behavior is what is being investigated," DiCiccio said in a written statement. "Having internal people involved always raises credibility questions."

Yahner and Harris were not available for questions, though Yahner did introduce himself briefly. He was born and raised in Phoenix and has lived here all his life. He has been with the department for 26 years in patrol and specialty assignments.

It was unclear whether or not Harris might be returned to his full duties or if Yahner was taking over permanently. Zuercher said this would be addressed when the review was completed.

Harris's title as public safety manager has not changed. Cavazos was unsure whether or not Harris may be eligible for another pension soon.

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