Embattled former Phoenix police chief retires - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Valley And State

Embattled former Phoenix police chief retires

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Posted: Friday, April 15, 2011 10:27 am | Updated: 12:27 pm, Fri Apr 15, 2011.

Phoenix's former police chief retired Friday as the city's public safety manager, a move that came six weeks after his removal from the department's day-to-day operations over accusations that he inflated kidnapping statistics to win federal grant money.

Jack Harris was reassigned from police chief to public safety manager last month pending a review of the statistics; his salary did not change.

Harris sent a one-sentence memo to Phoenix's assistant city manager Friday morning stating: "This memorandum serves as notice of my retirement, effective today's date of April 15, 2011."

Last month an angry Harris told reporters that he was outraged by calls for him to step down as police chief.

"If there is anybody in this community that does not believe that we have a kidnapping/home invasion problem in this community, they either just got off the bus today, or they've been living under a rock," he said at a crime scene.

"I've been accused of doing something wrong because I went to the federal government and said 'Give me money to help me protect the community and protect my officers,' " Harris said. "Well, I've got news for you — if I did something wrong by doing that, stand by, because I'm going to do it again and again and again as long as I'm wearing this uniform."

Harris could not immediately be reached Friday.

U.S. Justice Department auditors are reviewing kidnapping figures reported by the police department to get grant money. And the city froze any spending of the $1.7 million it was awarded to support a squad that investigates kidnappings.

The police department said in a statement last month that an audit showed "there are reports that do not belong in these statistics" and that numerous other reports were not included in the kidnapping statistics but should have been.

In Phoenix, people tied to immigrant and drug smuggling are kidnapped and held for ransom although there are no accurate numbers on how often that occurs. Phoenix police had reported that there were a record 359 kidnappings in Phoenix in 2008, and said they believed many of them were related to smuggling.

National media, politicians and others often have used that figure to bring attention to kidnappings in Phoenix, calling the city the No. 2 kidnapping capital of the world.

A group of independent experts is reviewing the department's reporting processes and statistics.

In a statement Friday, Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, who defended Harris over the kidnapping statistics, said he has never seen Harris "falter in his commitment to excellence and integrity."

"While I'm enormously proud of the man I've long called my chief, I feel deep disappointment about this unfitting ending to a remarkable career," Gordon said. "Jack Harris, like the Phoenix Police Department, has been stained and smeared by a vocal, vindictive few in pursuit of their own political and personal gain."

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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