Jack Harris No Longer Overseeing Phoenix PD; Acting Police Chief Joe Yahner Taking Over Day-to-Day Operations in Wake of Kidnapping-Stats Scandal (Updated)

Public Safety Manager Jack Harris (left) stripped of his police chief duties, with Assistant City Manager Ed Zuercher.
Public Safety Manager Jack Harris (left) stripped of his police chief duties, with Assistant City Manager Ed Zuercher.

Public Safety Manager Jack Harris  retains some of his duties as police chief, but Executive Assistant Police Chief Joe Yahner becomes Acting Police Chief in the wake of a scandal over inflated border-related kidnapping statistics reported to the federal government, it was announced today.

Phoenix City Manager David Cavazos' office said Harris will have oversight of homeland security issues (as New Times previously reported) and of security of City Hall and other municipal buildings.
There weren't many other details released, other than that city officials' plan to organize a panel of experts to review the police department's kidnapping stats and record-keeping processes.

Assistant City Manager Ed Zuercher said the panel will complete a review of Harris' situation in 60 days. He said, until that review is complete, it won't be clear whether Harris' move becomes permanent.
Zuercher said he is confident there was no fraud involved, that kidnapping statistics were not inflated to obtain federal funding.

Mark Spencer, president of the Police Law Enforcement Association, which represents rank-and-file Phoenix cops, alleges that police managers intentionally inflated border-related kidnapping statistics to get federal grants.

Zuercher suggested that inaccurate stats could be the result of sloppy record-keeping or mistakes.
Harris stood behind Cavazos during the first few minutes of the press conference, his face expressionless. When the announcement was made, he and Yahner walked out of City Hall room where media gathered.
Cavazos said he asked Harris not to comment on the matter.
When Cavazos was pressed as to why he wouldn't allow Harris to comment, even though he  said the process would be open and transparent, Cavazos turned to Zuercher, who only explained more about the review process.

The Phoenix Police Department later issued the following information on Yahner:

Joseph Yahner was born and raised in Phoenix and has been with the Phoenix Police Department for approximately 26 years.  Joe's formal education includes an undergraduate degree from Arizona State University and a Masters degree from the University of Phoenix.  Throughout his career, he has worked in several Patrol Precincts and a variety of specialty assignments.  

He was promoted to commander in 1999 and has been assigned to the City Manager's Office, Traffic Bureau, Property Crimes Bureau, and the Maryvale Precinct.  In 2007, he was promoted to Assistant Chief and assigned to the Homeland Security Division where he had overall responsibility for the Super Bowl, NBA All-Star game, and opening of Light Rail.  On June 1, 2009, Chief Yahner was promoted to the Executive Assistant Chief.

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