Gordon, City Council responding to Chief Harris controversy

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PHOENIX - Amid recent controversy over Phoenix police Chief Jack Harris, members of the City Council and Mayor Phil Gordon are responding to the situation.

Gordon held a press conference Wednesday morning where he addressed the Harris controversy and recent allegations of inflated crime statistics in the Phoenix Police Department.

Gordon said that crime is at an all-time low in Phoenix and a lot of that is due to Harris.

"Crime is at a 20-year low in Phoenix in every major category," Gordon said. "Jack Harris was the right chief seven-and-a-half years ago when he was appointed and is the right chief today. I have faith in Jack Harris, in his leadership and our Police Department."

Gordon also addressed the concerns about inflated kidnapping numbers, saying that those mistakes can be corrected and no fraud occurred.

Councilwoman Peggy Neely issued a statement Wednesday afternoon.

"Accountability is more than admitting a mistake; it's about accepting responsibility for your actions as well as the actions of your employees. The City Manager, in his capacity under the city charter, has advised the Council of his intent to make a change in the day-to-day operations of the Phoenix Police Department. The City Manager and Assistant City Manager have made this decision because they believe that it is in the best interest of the department and the city.

"The Council relies on the departments to do their job and provide accurate information to assist us in our decision making. We need transparency in all levels of city government and it is the responsibility of the City Manager to keep things in order and make sure that department heads are accountable.

"We have an outstanding police department with truly dedicated men and women working day in and day out to keep our city safe. We need to make sure it stays that way."

The Police Department has not spent the grant money it received because it's waiting to see what the federal government says after an audit of the numbers.

There have been rumors about Harris' job security amid the situation. The city manager is the one who has the authority to fire or suspend him and was not available for comment, but the City of Phoenix did release the following statement.

"The Phoenix Police Department provides some of the most vital public services in the city and is recognized across the country for its outstanding work protecting our residents.
"Questions have been raised about the police department's kidnapping statistics. It is imperative that all of the police department's statistical reporting is accurate and above reproach. City management will be reviewing the police department's reporting processes and making sure their information is correct and of the highest quality.
"The City Manager's Office, which includes Public Safety Manager Jack Harris, is discussing the scope and process for the review of these statistics. Some reporting changes are being considered as part of this review. The city is planning a news conference for Friday and will release more details as soon as they are available."