Phoenix Cop's Suicide Has City Leaders Looking at Police PTSD Issues
The suicide of Phoenix police officer Craig Tiger has city management taking a look at its policies and training regarding post-traumatic stress disorder issues.
City Manager Ed Zuercher has announced the assembly of a panel to review the city's policies, at the request of the police unions, which have blasted Police Chief Daniel Garcia for his handling of Tiger's case.
The Phoenix Law Enforcement Association (PLEA) and the Phoenix Police Sergeants and Lieutenants Association (PPSLA) announced Monday that they're going to hold votes of no confidence against Garcia. PLEA president Joe Clure said Garcia has "zero credibility" with Phoenix police officers on the issue of PTSD.
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Tiger committed suicide on November 8 after being fired from the department for a 2013 DUI arrest. Tiger was pulled over on June 5, 2013, on his way to a family cabin, where he planned to commit suicide. In the subsequent treatment he was ordered to undergo, Tiger was diagnosed with PTSD, stemming from his involvement in a fatal shooting the year before.
According to Clure, Garcia ordered a termination hearing for Tiger, even though Garcia's policy on DUI doesn't call for automatic firings of officers busted for drunk driving.
Clure says that at the termination hearing, he and Tiger provided medical proof of Tiger's PTSD diagnosis, and both pleaded with Garcia not to fire him.
"In an act of complete cold-hearted callousness, he terminated Officer Tiger," Clure said yesterday. "He refused to consider the totality of circumstances and denied Officer Tiger a second opportunity -- an officer who was injured on the job -- and fired him."
The union heads are calling this the last straw with Garcia, whom they've butted heads with on several other issues, ranging from Garcia's decision to change uniform policy, to his decisions on disciplinary matters, and more. In the latest issue of PLEA's news publication for members, union VP Ken Crane outlined more than 20 other complaints against Garcia from the eyes of PD officers, citing a "failing state of morale" within the department.
On the subject of PTSD, though, the unions sent a letter to City Manager Zuercher seeking a complete review of the city's policies on PTSD.
Zuercher responded in a statement, agreeing to have a panel of experts evaluate the policies and recommend changes to him.
However, PLEA president Clure did not sound enthusiastic about the review.
"I'm all for looking at solving the problem but I've got to tell you, I'm very cautious and suspicious about any time the city starts putting tasks forces together, and committees," Clure says. "The history has been that it's a diversion, it's an opportunity to allow time to pass so that everybody kind of forgets about it and nothing ever really happens."
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