MESA, AZ — The City of Mesa announced Police Chief Ramon Batista's resignation Monday afternoon to pursue "personal interests and other professional opportunities."
Chief Batista was the third Mesa police chief in the past nine years, and he was hired in the aftermath of the high-profile shooting of Daniel Shaver by then-officer Philip Brailsford. As chief, Batista quickly went about making changes aimed at installing a different culture in the department and rebuilding trust with the community.
"He’s worked very hard to connect the department with the community," said Mesa City Manager Chris Brady. "In fact, he’s done that exceptionally well, and he will be missed in that role working with our community."
After Robert Johnson's high-profile excessive force complaint in 2018, Batista implemented changes to training and use-of-force policies.
Last year, a complaint was filed with the City of Mesa that claimed Batista should be held accountable for not helping an officer during a potentially dangerous situation.
Earlier this year, two unions representing Mesa police officers declared Batista did not have the support of the rank-and-file.
Following the vote of no confidence, Batista said, "As a command staff, we are committed to leading this department and supporting its officers as they carry out their duties. Together we have experienced tremendous growth and faced challenges that in the end will make us better. We will continue to build stronger relationships within the department and throughout the community."
The city manager said he had a meeting late last week with Batista about the future of the police department and the chief's enthusiasm to move forward. Multiple sources told ABC15 Batista was asked to resign.
"He served us well, and this was Ramon’s decision," Brady responded. "I think there was a concern for his capacity to continue in these very challenging times."
"The agency is larger than anyone who sits in the chief's desk," said Pastor Andre Miller, a community leader. "I believe there are a lot of cultural changes that need to happen in the City of Mesa, and I think we’re on a good track to do that."
Officials say an interim police chief could be named as early as Tuesday.
The Mesa Police Association released the following statement:
"Chief Batista’s resignation marks the third leadership transition in less than a decade for our department. We look forward to working with the city council and city management to find a long-term chief who will serve our city well."
In addition, the Mesa Fraternal Order of Police issued the following statement Monday:
"The Mesa Fraternal Order of Police wishes to express its gratitude to the City of Mesa’s city management team for bringing closure to a strained two-year period by former Chief of Police Ramon Batista. The Mesa Fraternal Order of Police stands ready to work with city management for the continued refinement of policing that is fair, transparent and non-biased. The Mesa Fraternal Order of Police is grateful for the unwavering support of our community and the continued support of city management. "
ABC15 Investigator Melissa Blasius covers policing and politics. If you have a news tip, email her at Melissa@abc15.com or call 602-803-2506.