Phoenix Law Enforcement Association

PLEA Brings Concerns To AG’s Office

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Harris PSM/Chief Analysis

If Jack Harris is the police chief, his pension benefits payments should be suspended. If Jack Harris is a Deputy City Manager, he can’t sit on the AzPost board. The validity of AzPost rulings that he has participated in are in question.

If Jack Harris is a deputy city manager, he can’t be the police chief. If Jack Harris is the police chief, he can’t be a deputy city manager.

Jack Harris was just awarded a 5th star. Deputy city manager’s don’t wear stars. Phil Gordon has stated that Jack Harris is the best “police chief” in the country.

Harris’ current position appears to circumvent the requirements and intent of several laws, rules, and ordinances.

The Arizona Police Association (APA) represents over 8000 working police officers in the State of Arizona. The APA made a formal complaint to AzPost (Hammerstrum and Stabler) in person in September 2008 about this clear conflict. PLEA was notified the issue has been sent to the Governor’s office.

Background Events

March 15, 2002 Phx. Pension Board minutes

  • Jack Harris enters DROP on 02/01/02 for a period of 60 months (5 years)

September 15, 2006 Phx. Pension Board minutes

  • Ron Snodgrass announces that he was contacted by a member (Jack Harris) who was going to be required to exit DROP and was considering returning to employment in a civilian position.

October 20, 2006 Phx. Pension Board minutes

  • Board attorney Niederdeppe announces a discussion of reemployment for a person (Jack Harris) who was retiring from the PPD and was going to be reemployed by the City. A determination was to be discussed by the board as to whether this would suspend his pension payments.
  • Harris explains that he has a break in service prior to his new job classification.

October 20, 2006 Phx. Pension Board transcript

  • Harris: “So there would be a complete separation from the City of Phoenix and then I would come back in this other permanent position.”

Memo authored by Harris on October 20, 2006

  • Harris explains that he will have a break in service of two weeks from his police chief position for Phoenix.

February 16, 2007 Phx. Pension Board minutes

  • Harris terminates his participation in DROP

Statutes & Ordinances Impacted

Pension Rule38-849.D SUBSEQUENTLY BECOMES EMPLOYED IN THE SAME POSITION

“Same position” means the member is in a position where the member performs duties and exercises authority that are the same duties that were performed and the same authority that was exercised by the member before the member’s retirement.

It appears the pension board attorney had a valid concern about the “sameness” of Harris’ new position. CLICK HERE to read his October 16, 2006, letter to the pension board.

Operating budget for 2008-2009 shows one authorized position for police chief for the police department.

The AZPOST board page identifies Jack Harris as the police chief of the Phoenix Police Department.

Police Chief job code is 62690 and this job description was effective 6/92. This position requires A.L.E.O.A.C. (currently AZPOST) certification (i.e. sworn).

October 20, 2006 Phx. Pension Board minutes

  • Wendy Larsen commented concern that the fund manager may not see enough distinction between the two positions. Harris replied he had met with the fund manager and this was not a concern.

October 20, 2006 Phx. Pension Board transcript

  • Harris: “But I would want to make it clear that I don’t want anybody to have any misconceptions I would still be the police chief in as sworn for this thing as I am today.
  • Ed Zuercher: “I guess what I, the difference to me in what she described as an officer coming back as a Sergeant is different because they are coming back still with only the responsibility to a sworn person. What the Chief described to me was, civilian duties added on to existing duties.”

October 24, 2006 Phx. Pension Board minutes

  • “Ms. Starr stated she would be voting based on the assurance given in discussion with City management the title of Police Chief would not be used. Chairperson Zuercher stated the contemplated position will be a Deputy City Manager position, although the position may have a different working title. Chairperson Zuercher stated it was his understanding the City formally would not be using the title of Police Chief, although how the public referred to the position was not in the City’s control.”

October 24, 2006 Phx. Pension Board transcript

  • Ed Zuercher: “This is I guess my thought on that Ron and Gail would be in this case what you have is a sworn position who would be assigned to a civilian position with duties expanded beyond the current, so I’m not sure where you would find for a commander or a lieutenant or an officer a place where they would go that’s a civilian position with duties that are different and expanded or if you did that for example if a police officer retired from the system and then became a neighborhood services inspector which is a civilian position in a different and we’ve had that happen, back when we had some neighborhood services inspectors who are retired police officers. I think there is a way that works.”

AzPost Requirement: ARS 41-1821.A.2 T TWO CHIEFS OF CITY POLICE, ONE APPOINTED FROM A CITY HAVING A POPULATION OF SIXTY THOSAND OR MORE PERSONS…

Operating budget for 2008-2009 shows one authorized position for public safety manager in the office of the public safety manager.

City Public Safety Manager code is 62680 and this job description was effective 1/07. This job requires AZPOST certification.

City ordinance Sec. 2-119 requires that the police department will be headed by a Chief of Police.

In the Phoenix Police Department Operations Digest Jack Harris is announced as the Public Safety Manager.

September 15, 2006 Phx. Pension Board transcripts

  • Ed Zuecher: “So it’s really, as I understand it, will be a question of someone covered by a public safety pension system, retires, DROPS, finishes DROP, and the question is: is it possible for them to come back in the civilian capacity, in a civilian capacity.”

October 20, 2006 Phx. Pension Board minutes

  • Harris explains that he is being asked to be reemployed in a different job classification as a deputy city manager with different job duties.

October 20, 2006 Phx. Pension Board transcript

  • Harris: “The offer that I had been given is that they would like me to continue employment with the City of Phoenix but in a different classification. So what the proposal is, in essence, is I would retire just as anyone else normally would out of completely out of DROP and out of the state retirement system effective January 19. After a short break in service looking at one or two weeks I would be reemployed by the city as a deputy city manager. Of course I would continue to stay out of the retirement system I would be in a system within the City of Phoenix or civilian personnel.”
  • Ron Snodgrass: “With regards to what Chief Harris brought up, I took a lot of notes here, he’s going into a new job classification deputy manager above a department head he’s currently a department head now, the language is short and sweet, it says he’s, the member is in a position where he performs duties and exercises authority, the same duties that were performed and the same authority that was exercised. He’s got new duties, he’s got duties beyond the scope of what he ever had before, he’s got a whole different job classification and he even said that some of those duties, which he performed before will be delegated down to the number 2 XO. I don’t see where if Jack gets this offer and even takes it after January 19th, as you said, I don’t think it’s going to be in conflict with anything process in all honesty. I just don’t see a problem with it.”
  • Harris: “We had discussed that, Frank and I had discussed that being his main concern, with that was, there is nothing internal that would be a problem with changing the title, but he felt the community would want to have a police chief and to change the title to commissioner or director or something he didn’t feel that the public would be comfortable with that so he wanted to keep that as one of the job duties. That was his position. Officially it would be Deputy Manager, but it’s kind of hard to introduce the Deputy Manager to the community, when they are looking to the police chief to speak to them.”

Memo authored by Harris on October 20, 2006

  • Harris stated he is currently employed as the police chief for Phoenix.
  • Harris differentiates between being a police chief and being a deputy city manager. He explains that his DCM job is different from the police chief in that it has a far greater scope.
  • Harris writes that the “position of Deputy City Manager is inherently different than the current department head position of Police Chief.”

October 24, 2006 Phx. Pension Board minutes

  • Ron Snodgrass (board member) explains that the law precludes Harris from returning as police chief. His current duties as chief will be distributed among assistant chiefs.
  • As a board member, Snodgrass explains that he facilitated a meeting between Harris and Jim Hacking (fund manager) and Lieberman (fund mgr. attorney). Hacking communicated the job duty of DCM had enough “added complexities” that it fell into the category of a new job distinct from police chief.
  • Zuercher, Starr (Gayle), Larsen (Wendy), and Snodgrass voted in favor of motion to allow Harris to be rehired without pension penalties. Lt. Stan Hoover voted against the motion (he made no comments during the recorded board meeting).

October 24, 2006 Phx. Pension Board transcripts

  • Patty: “Um, Ron, I’ve thought about this over a period of time and really caught bits and pieces in some very direct conversations with Chief Harris about it and I guess some of the questions that come to my mind, um, sorry we were going to shut the door, really has to do with what kind of path are we heading down with regards to DROP and what the intent of DROP was, so I guess I’m thinking if, if things happen to work out I guess where Jack stays and becomes the Deputy City Manager, um, what does that do to us when we have the next employee, whoever that might be in DROP who doesn’t want to go and tries to do something, is probably the most politically correct way I can say it, um, its certainly not a personal issue, um, with the Chief. I like the Chief, but I, I tend to look at things more from a system perspective, what was the intent and where was the program headed, so those are some of the thoughts that were rolling around in my head. I’m not familiar enough with the legal details of DROP, again, you have a general marriage, but in terms of, that’s why we have an attorney in here who has looked at that, so, does that help at all.”
  • Snodgrass: “…hat’s sad because now the laws have been modified a little bit, is creating a problem for us because the law does not preclude Jack from coming back and being a full duty sworn police officer of any rank other than chief the way it reads right now. He could be an assistant chief the day after he leaves, he can be a commander, he can be any rank, and so…
  • Gayle: “I will be voting based also on the assurance that I’ve been given in discussions with Frank Fairbanks, city manager that the same title police chief will not be used in any way shape or form.”

Ed Zuercher: “Ok”

Gayle: “As a job description, title, anything…”

Ed Zuercher: “I would just, I would clarify that with my understanding, is that the position would be a deputy city manager position. It may be have a working title of something in the nature of director of police and homeland security, I’m not sure exactly what it is, but my understanding is 5 Harris PSM/Chief Analysis that the city formally will not be using the title of police chief. Of course there’s no guarantee as to what the public or the media will be calling this person. Is that what you mean Gayle?”

Gayle: “Yes”

Ed Zuercher: “Ok. Any further comment… discussion… I have a motion and a second; uh I would just also indicate that this is dealing with someone becoming a deputy city manager. All those in favor of the motion, say aye….opposed”

Summary

Harris’ position in the City of Phoenix appears to be in conflict with pension laws, city ordinances, and AzPost requirements.

  • It was agreed that Harris would be brought back in the capacity of a Deputy City Manager.
  • Harris says in his comments and memo that he still is going to remain the police chief.
  • The City of Phoenix ordinance requires, mandates, and calls for a police chief to head up the police department.
    • There is one police chief position slotted in the current budget.
    • Police chief is a current job description per city personnel.
  • Phx. Pension Board chair Ed Zuercher described Harris’ new job a as a Deputy City Manager with duties beyond the scope of his old job.
    • There is one public safety manager position slotted in the current budget.
    • Public safety manager is a current job description per city personnel.
  • Pension law states that if a person comes back in the same position, pension benefits are suspended.
    • Additional duties don’t change the job of police chief. Harris’ new job as a Deputy City Manager is the same job of police chief with extra work.
    • Police officers have additional duties placed upon them all the time. They’re still police officers.
  • AzPost has the statutory requirement for a police chief on their board.
  • Harris is identified as a police chief on the AzPost board.
  • Phx. Pension Board member Gayle Starr’s vote to approve the new job was clearly contingent upon Harris not being called police chief.
  • Phx. Pension Board Chair Ed Zuercher explained that Harris’ new position would be a deputy city manager.
    • Ed Zuercher was Phil Gordon’s chief of staff at the time of this pension board issue.
  • Phx. Pension Board member Snodgrass understood that the law precluded Harris from coming back as police chief.
  • Snodgrass facilitated Harris’ job with the pension fund manager and at the same time sat as a board member on the local pension board.