Phoenix panel to address PTSD among responders

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PHOENIX (AP) -- In the wake of a former police officer's suicide, Phoenix is creating a task force to consider possible ways to improve the city's programs to help police officers and other responders afflicted with post-traumatic stress disorder.

City Manager Ed Zuercher's announcement Monday follows controversy over the recent suicide of former police officer Craig Tiger.

Tiger was fired after a 2013 drunken driving arrest that occurred a year after Tiger and his partner were involved in the fatal shooting of a man who was threatening people in a park with a bat.

The Phoenix police union said the Police Department should have done more to help Tiger.

Zuercher said PTSD is a serious issue that needs serious attention. He said the task force will include city officials, labor representatives and outside experts.

In a statement, Zuercher also said that he is "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 judgment on such a critical matter."

Zuercher added that Phoenix Police Chief Daniel V. Garcia "has a very difficult job, leading one of the largest police departments in the country with nearly 4,500 employees."

Officials from the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association and the Phoenix Police Sergeants and Lieutenants Association said Tiger's death was symptomatic of a larger pattern of low morale among rank-and-file officers and a culture of "tyrannical" leadership by Garcia.

Garcia said the department won't be commenting further about the issue until Tiger's funeral services are complete.

The unions will collect votes from their members throughout the next month and plan to present their findings to Zuercher.

"I am confident that the vote will show that the employees of the Phoenix Police Department are looking for a change in leadership," PPSLA President Sean Mattson said in a statement Monday.

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Information from: KPHO-TV, http://www.kpho.com/

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