Residents not sure Harris is to blame in PD scandals - Ahwatukee Foothills News: News

Residents not sure Harris is to blame in PD scandals

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Posted: Friday, March 11, 2011 2:00 pm | Updated: 5:51 pm, Fri Jun 24, 2011.

The city of Phoenix may be facing some pressure from media as allegations of false kidnapping statistics swirl, but some Ahwatukee Foothills residents are giving Public Safety Manager Jack Harris the benefit of a doubt.

"I thought Harris was a great police chief," said Carole Worden, an Ahwatukee resident. "I thought he was doing a great job. Maybe he made a mistake, I don't know, but I just feel really bad."

Mike Durham, an Ahwatukee resident and lobbyist at the Legislature, said he believes the upcoming review will be good for the city and will help clarify any problems.

"I welcome the concept of the federal audit because I think that it will cut both ways," Durham said. "I think it'll find that, yeah, these guys probably guessed at some of their estimates. Then the next question is well, federal government, what did you do to improve the system and make the system more viable to these guys to get accurate statistics? Have you dropped any money our way to improve the system?"

Durham said the system does not have an accurate way to record the kidnappings that Phoenix police are dealing with. When a drop-house is crowded with people being held for ransom that are here illegally, it may be difficult to classify, he said.

"So it's not like the average Phoenician is walking down the street and getting yanked off the street and getting kidnapped," Durham said. "And the coding system and the statistical system I don't think accurately allows for that kind of registration of those kinds of cases."

Many seem to be waiting for the 60-day review to be finished. The city has asked outside experts to conduct a review to make sure the statistics were not falsified in order to gain $1.7 million in grant money.

Harris was asked to give up his position in the day-to-day workings of the Phoenix Police Department while the investigation is carried out. He remains in charge of some public safety matters.

Assistant City Manager Ed Zuercher has stated that he believes sloppy reporting is to blame for the incorrect kidnapping numbers.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or ahurtado@ahwatukee.com

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