Police unions call for Phoenix chief to step down

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
Phoenix Police Chief  Daniel Garcia By Catherine Holland Phoenix Police Chief Daniel Garcia By Catherine Holland
Former police Officer Craig Tiger By Jennifer Thomas Former police Officer Craig Tiger By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX -- New calls for the chief of the Phoenix Police Department to step down. The Phoenix Law Enforcement Association (PLEA) said Chief Daniel Garcia needs to go.

PLEA President Joe Clure held a joint press conference with the Phoenix Police Sergeants and Lieutenants Association Monday morning to announce a vote of no confidence campaign.

The unions are furious that former police officer Craig Tiger didn't get the help he needed for his PTSD.

"His [Garcia's] inability to express even one iota of understanding of PTSI [post-traumatic stress injury] and how it impacts officers or to even address the issue is shocking, disappointing and uninspiring," Clure said.

Clure said the chief routinely ignores subordinate mental health issues.

"He is devoid of true leadership skills and has proven to be a tyrant and a bully who manages through threats fear and intimidation," Clure said.

Clure went on to cite what he calls a litany of transgressions committed by the chief, specifically Tiger, who committed suicide earlier this month.

Tiger was fired from the force for a DUI. Union reps claim Tiger pleaded with Garcia for his job and tried to get help dealing with PTSD that stemmed from an on-duty fatal shooting two years ago. His firing and subsequent suicide led both unions to announce a vote of no confidence for the chief on Monday.

The declaration came as City Manager Ed Zuercher announced a first responder mental health task force.

"I want to be sure that the city has programs that reflect a clear understanding of the science of trauma, including what PTSD is and how it manifests," Zuercher said in a statement.

Garcia would only respond to 3TV by email, saying, "The circumstances surrounding the death of Craig Tiger are extremely unfortunate ... I will not be commenting further about this issue until funeral services are complete."

The last time a vote of no confidence was called for a Phoenix police chief was more than 30 years ago.

Statement from City Manager Ed Zuercher regarding the call for no confidence:

"Today the Phoenix Police Sergeant and Lieutenants Association as well as the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association announced their intent to hold a No Confidence vote of Phoenix Police Chief Garcia.

"We are extremely saddened by the loss of former police officer Craig Tiger and our thoughts are with his family. At the same time, his situation has brought broader issues to our attention, including PTSD, which is being addressed immediately.

"I am listening to the issues being raised by the unions regarding Phoenix Police leadership and am talking to both sides to get all the facts and listen to all perspectives and will not rush to judgement on such a critical matter. I will do everything in my power to address and work through the concerns brought to my attention.

"Our police chief has a very difficult job, leading one of the largest police departments in the country with nearly 4,500 employees. He spends each and every day dedicated to the safety of this community and to his hard-working employees. We must all work together in the best interest of the entire community we serve."


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