Phoenix Police Union Members Turned Away by City Council on Issue of Chief Jack Harris


Souring relations between Phoenix Police Chief Jack Harris (pictured at right) and members of the department's union were the source of a squabble at a City Council committee meeting today.

As KTAR news (92.3 FM) reports, union president Mark Spencer and other union members wanted to tell a council sub-committee what they thought of Harris, but were turned away after hours of waiting. Click here to see the union's own article about the showdown.

The issue: Harris' title. Technically, he's the city's public safety manager. Phoenix gave the chief a new handle after he resigned and was immediately rehired to a similar position. Known as double-dipping, the move allowed Harris to start collecting his pension benefits in addition to his salary.

"Is he the chief or isn't he," KTAR quotes Spencer as saying.

Previously, the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association took issue with Harris' serving on the Arizona Peace Officers Standards and Training Board, (AZ POST), because -- as the union's Web site states -- the POST's rules insist that only a police chief can serve when representing a city that has more than 60,000 people.

As we reported a couple of weeks ago, Harris resigned from the POST board for reasons that were left unsaid. The union says it was told Harris claims his life is too busy to include the board responsibilities. PLEA says Harris "abandoned" the "important" POST position and links to a humorous audio recording of Jack Harris leaving a message for Spencer:

"I'm a little confused -- I thought PLEA was trying to get me thrown off the board," Harris says in reference to his POST board resignation. "So I'm confused about whether you're upset or you're happy."

Ah, well -- a police chief by any other name smells as sweet.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.