PHOENIX — Two days after Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams announced the termination of three officers, the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association says they've received hundreds of calls and emails- asking for a vote of no confidence to remove Williams as Chief of Police.
"We've received no less than, I don't know, two, three hundred calls here at the office regarding this," said PLEA President Michael London on Thursday. "We understand what's going on; we're probably going to have to call an emergency board meeting to discuss this."
London initially criticized the Chief's decision, telling ABC15:
"The Phoenix Law Enforcement Association (PLEA) has a complete understanding of the position Chief Jeri Williams is in as the leader of the Phoenix Police Department and as an appointed employee of the City of Phoenix. However, we do not agree with the decision to terminate the employment of Officer Christopher Meyer and Detective Clinton Swick."
In June, the Phoenix Police Department opened an investigation into Meyer and some of its officers about how they handled the shoplifting-theft incident involving 22-year-old Dravon Ames.
Detective Dave Swick was fired, according to Williams, for inappropriate social media posts. Sixty other employees within the department have been disciplined.
"We've heard it time and time again the chief has lost the department," added London in a video posted to the union's Facebook page. "She's definitely lost PLEA members, a majority of them it seems."
Williams stood by her decision Tuesday, despite acknowledging the Disciplinary Review Board- the group tasked with recommending discipline for officers- didn't recommend termination for at least one officer, Officer Meyer.
"The Disciplinary review board (DRB) recommended [Meyer] receive a six-week unpaid suspension, but the decision on discipline is mine,” said Chief Williams. “And after meeting with the officer Chris Meyer personally, and considering all the facts of the case, I have notified him of my intention to terminate his employment.”
"I believe that Chief Williams being an employee of the city, even though she said it was her decision and hers alone, I think she is being driven by the mayor and [most of the] council," added London. "I think that they don't care about us as a group of employees. I don't think they care about our safety."
The Union President isn't alone, Phoenix Councilman Sal DiCiccio also publicly criticized the move, calling it "political."
"Make no mistake, firing these officers because of Facebook posts and bad language is not justice. This is nothing more than the City of Phoenix giving in to mob rule," he said in a Facebook post. "Not only will this decision cost the City of Phoenix millions of dollars in a lawsuit, but these officers will end up getting their jobs back when the decision is overturned."
We reached out to Mayor Kate Gallego for a comment regarding the discussion of a vote of no confidence, who added:
"I support Chief Williams and the work she is doing to make Phoenix a stronger community. The Chief was clear in her message that public safety officers will be held accountable for actions that do not reflect the values of the police department. We are continuing to move forward with modernizations to strengthen the department and community trust.