Phoenix Police Chief Jack Harris retires after kidnapping controversy

PHOENIX - Public Safety Manager Jack Harris retired unexpectedly Friday morning after submitting a short letter to city officials.

Harris was already removed from his position as police chief on March 3, just days after an ABC15 investigation found widespread problems with the department's 2008 kidnapping statistics.

Acting Chief Joe Yahner took over his duties.

The inflated statistics were used to get millions of dollars in federal grants, putting Phoenix in the middle of a Department of Justice probe .

Harris could not be reached for comment. An ABC15 crew visited his home but knocks at the door went unanswered.

Harris worked his way up from a beat cop on the street to the top of the department in 2004. In his letter to the city, he wrote just one sentence, ending his 39-year-career.

"This memorandum serves as notice of my retirement, effective today's date of April 15, 2011," the letter said.

Harris has stated multiple times that he would not step down under any circumstances. Mayor Phil Gordon also publically supported Harris.

However, two weeks ago, ABC15 reported another story revealing Harris had applied to pay $19,000 to add military service time onto his years of service, allowing him to accelerate into a brand new pension.

Mayor Phil Gordon and the City of Phoenix have both released statements regarding Harris's retirement:

Statement from Mayor Phil Gordon:

I've known Jack Harris for nearly 20 years and I've never seen him falter in his commitment to excellence and integrity. To devote 39 years to making one city safe is unprecedented today. So is rising from walking a beat to commanding one of the largest – and best – police forces in America. The City of Phoenix today is at a quarter century low in our crime rate and much of the credit for the safety of our families and our neighborhoods goes to Jack Harris and his leadership.

While I'm enormously proud of the man I've long called "my Chief," I feel deep disappointment about this unfitting ending to a remarkable career. Jack Harris, like the Phoenix Police Department, has been stained and smeared by a vocal, vindictive few in pursuit of their own political and personal gain.

I stand by Jack Harris today as I have every day in my time as Mayor. As the search begins to find a new leader for our police department, I know we'll be fortunate indeed to again find someone of his caliber.

Statement from the City of Phoenix:

This morning Public Safety Manager Jack Harris submitted a letter to the city announcing his retirement effective today.

"Jack Harris served the residents of Phoenix for more than 39 years, starting as a patrol officer and working in many different areas of the Police Department before becoming Chief in 2004," said Ed Zuercher, assistant city manager.

"While he served as Chief and Public Safety Manager, the Police Department became recognized nationally as a leader in community-based policing. Crime rates are at an all-time low to a great extent because of Jack's focus on getting the worst criminals off the street. Phoenix residents should be proud of their excellent Police Department. We wish Jack well in his retirement."
 

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