Chief of police defends precinct under fire as awards are given out

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PHOENIX – The Phoenix police chief is responding to criticism against his department in the wake of a city councilman put in handcuffs.

Last week Councilman Michael Johnson was trying to check on his neighbor whose home caught on fire when Officer Brian Authement detained him.

The officer also claims Johnson assaulted him. While the investigation continues some people have called for the officer to be fired.

Others have claimed abuse and racism within the South Mountain precinct.

Police Chief Jack Harris admits he is "a little bit surprised by the reaction from the community, especially the South Mountain precinct. We have worked so hard in that precinct with certainly the last two commanders that had been down there to engage the community and to work with us and we've had tremendous success down there in lowering the crime rate even further than what it's been across the city and that has been fantastic."

Earlier on Thursday a big awards ceremony was held downtown where nearly two dozen Phoenix police officers were honored for their distinguished service.