Harris, too, has been silenced by city management, but before that happened, he defiantly continued to defend the amount of border-related kidnapping and home-invasion cases handled by his agency. He said a preliminary review already had revealed at least 200 kidnapping cases and that other cases, about 100, not originally counted among the kidnapping cases, had been discovered.

Harris defended himself. Referring to the stars pinned to his uniform, he announced that if anyone wanted to take them, they would have to come and get them. He angrily added that he wasn't just going to hand over the stars.

The following day, City Manager Cavazos did just that — effectively stripping Harris of his rank.

Jack Harris (left) was discredited and removed over faulty kidnapping statistics. Joe
Yahner (right) was named acting police chief.
SOCIAL EYE MEDIA
Jack Harris (left) was discredited and removed over faulty kidnapping statistics. Joe Yahner (right) was named acting police chief.

"Harris had assured management on many occasions that strict guidelines were followed to gather statistics and that the statistics were correct," Cavazos said. "We are taking this matter very seriously, and that is why we are conducting a thorough review with independent, private-sector individuals."

Cavazos said it was his responsibility to make sure that all pertinent facts get gathered so the city can "learn exactly what happened in this situation."

Despite ongoing criticism of the kidnapping stats, Cavazos didn't ask for an independent review or even call for a review outside the police department, until February 28 — when Harris finally told city officials that the numbers weren't entirely accurate.

But after local media started running with details about the actual police reports labeled kidnapping, it became apparent that the statistics published by the PPD — and congressional testimony delivered by Harris and Mayor Gordon regarding the figures — were inaccurate.

After blindly trusting Harris for months, Cavazos and other city officials quickly started to distance themselves from Harris' administration, which has been grappling with a series of unrelated scandals.

Consider that in March 2010, Phoenix police Officer Brian Authement wrestled Councilman Michael Johnson to the ground at the scene of a house fire near Johnson's home, keeping him there for 10 minutes in handcuffs after Johnson had tried to check on his neighbor.

Community leaders immediately joined Johnson in raising concerns about police brutality in African-American and Latino neighborhoods.

Phoenix police Officer Richard Chrisman was indicted in October on second-degree murder charges for an alleged unjustified shooting of a domestic-violence suspect and his dog.

That same month, Phoenix police Sergeant Sean Drenth was found shot to death near the state Capitol. Drenth, whose death remains unsolved, was linked to a scam in which police officers allegedly collected thousands of dollars from businesses for off-duty work they didn't actually perform.

In November, the Attorney General's Office announced that three Phoenix police officers and one former cop had been indicted in that off-duty scandal, which involved falsified invoices.

Despite it all, it was the faulty statistics that led to Harris' removal from his post.

The stats scandal prompted council members Peggy Neely, Sal DiCiccio, and Thelda Williams to say they had no confidence in Harris as a police chief.

"There needs to be real accountability for this," Williams said. "There were many opportunities to explain those numbers were incorrect. You don't cover it up."

Councilman Johnson, however, cautioned against a rush to judgment, urging that the city await a federal review of the statistics.

It was a curious position by Johnson, considering there was little pause between the time he was wrestled to the ground by the Phoenix cop and a press conference where he raised concerns about police brutality in minority neighborhoods.

And Councilman DiCiccio, who has all but called for Harris' removal, seems to have forgotten that he sternly criticized a fellow councilman a couple of years ago for going after Harris' scalp.

In May 2009, DiCiccio accused Councilman Michael Nowakowski of violating the Phoenix City Charter by pressuring the City Manager's Office to get rid of Harris. DiCiccio then pointed out that Nowakowski could be removed from office for the alleged charter violation.

Mayor Gordon seems unsure where he stands on Statsgate, first issuing a statement March 1 about his deep disappointment over getting misled about the kidnapping numbers:

"My colleagues and I have been assured by city management that our numbers are accurate . . . To discover now, long after the fact, that these numbers may be wrong is absolutely unacceptable."

But just a day or two later, Gordon tweeted that he's "very disappointed in the Jack Harris [removal] decision. When the audit is complete, the public will see the truth."

Gordon also tweeted that he had "faith" in Harris and "strong support" for the ousted chief.

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17 comments
linkiss
linkiss

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FortuneTeller
FortuneTeller

In keeping with the tried and true American traditions of public mis-administration I predict:

The review panel report will be a puff-piece likely to have a few minor recommendations for improving the data collection process. The problems will likely be blamed on already overworked line-level staff while administrators try to create the spin of plausible deniability to divert the blame. Anyone already retired or soon to retire will be thrown under the bus. Maybe a couple retirements and transfers then - back to business as usual.

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MUMBLINMANDAVE
MUMBLINMANDAVE

GUESS IF UR DUMBASS WAS KIDNAPPED YOU WOULD BE LOOKIN AT ## WHAT A DUMBASS !!!!!

14401
14401

The important thing to remember here is that they A L L lie. It's just who gets the most out of the lie that counts with them. Who will be receiving the money for yet another panel or study, or commission, etc. Enough already you doedos's and bozoo's. Stop spending!!!!

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XSoldier
XSoldier

Great story, Monica.

I find it interesting that Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon can publicly support Public-Safety Manager Jack Harris, despite the allegations against him, but when it comes to the MCSO shurf, it is a whole different ballgame with Mayor Phil.

I also find it interesting that Phoenix City Manager David Cavazos wants the city to run an investigation on the same stats the USDOJ is already looking at. Why not just wait until the DOJ is done? It's possible that the city would only achieve the same results as the DOJ and it would be a complete waste of time and money.

What if Harris didn't cook the numbers? Harris could sue the Phoenix police, Cavazos, the USDOJ, the city of Phoenix, Maricopa County, and Arizona.....

Then again, if Harris DID cook the books, then he and Mayor Phil should both be run out of town by a screaming mob with pitchforks and torches. Lying to Congress can get your ass indicted. Just look at Roger Clemens.

I can't wait to see what the DOJ says about all this.....

JesterJackson
JesterJackson

People around here are too lazy to run these fools out with pitchforks. Look how long people have been putting up with Arpaio and his bullshit. You have to wait for them to die of old age in order to replace them. They keep getting reelected.

AlwaysBlameOthers
AlwaysBlameOthers

SXolder,Unlikely that Harris will be held criminally liable for lying to congress. It will be difficult for prosecutors to prove intent to defraud - although he did go on tv and say he would do it again. Harris can plead that he was just a dumbass mouthpiece for the statistics that were given to him by the lower level staff who will ultimately be crucified.

XSoldier
XSoldier

As I said, just look at Roger Clemens..... He had no "intent to defraud" and Congress indicted him on 21 counts of perjury.

Also, as chief of police, Harris is responsible for the numbers his agency is reporting. Similar to the MCSO shurf, our delusional, corrupt, 4-star wearing top constable

SmokeAndMirrors
SmokeAndMirrors

XSoldier,Solid observations. City management wants to get out in front of the DOJ. In case the DOJ report turns out bad then City management can pretend the DOJ report is "old news" and pretend that the problem has already been addressed. They are clever at maneuvering and trying to shape public opinion in advance.

T1ger
T1ger

It's sad that the Michael Johnson episode be continually looked at as police misconduct. When there is a fire in a building, the fire department is there, the police are there, it doesn't matter who you are, unless you are supposed to be in the building or immediately around it, then stay out of the way of the professionals. Johnson had no business being there and was out of line and Authenment took him into custody as he was trained and expected to do.

Johnson's actions that caused him to be handcuffed gave merit to him remaining so for the duration obviously needed. He was in the wrong and was fortunate he was not booked into jail, as perhaps he should have been. He put himself in the position he was in and was ultimately given preferential treatment, which was the real crime.

linkiss
linkiss

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Anon
Anon

While you're investigating that grant, how about the stats for the $23 plus million plus Federal Stimulus money given the Arizona Criminal Justice Commission -- made up of all law enforcement and prosecutors? Nothing for the people who need to protect themselves from abuse of power and overzealous prosecution. How does the Maricopa County sheriff get away with not allowing an audit?

How about the stats for the $50,000,000 Federal Stimulus money given Corrections/prison growth, while education is going down the tubes. Or does do the "leaders" want an uneducated mass because it's easier to steamroll over them. Who are the customers for the jails and prisons?

The outcry against Harris should be directed also on the Federal stimulus money going to the mass industrial prison complex Arizona has become at the expense of the people and education and Arizona's future. Wake up people. Demand the stats and an independent taxpayer oversight investigation on all those receiving $2 million and more. They are lining their pockets at the expense of the people.

Cajungman
Cajungman

YEP fat joe getting away with all the money and we keep paying for his stupit acts

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