Phoenix Police Chief Daniel Garcia fired after asking for contract

PHOENIX — Police Chief Daniel Garcia was fired Thursday shortly after requesting a two-year contract from the city to “silence” his critics.

The firing came shortly after Garcia held a press conference to both request the contract and blast police unions.

“My opinion is this is a huge step in the right direction,” Sean Mattson, president of the Phoenix Police Sergeants and Lieutenants Association, said. “I’ve never had a police chief I’ve been so disappointed in.”

Mattson said his sentiments are echoed throughout the department.

“This guy needs to go,” he said. “It’s not just sergeants and lieutenants, we have gotten it from very rank in the Phoenix Police Department except for the chief of police himself and the assistant executive chief.”

Councilman Sal DiCiccio said he had an inkling Garcia’s job was at risk, but wasn’t positive.

“Nobody on the city council knew this was going to happen today,” he said. “I kind of got a tip, as I do. I was not officially told.”

“It’s time to silence the critics, police unions … cannot run the Phoenix Police Department,” he said.
In the press conference, Garcia said police unions are harming both the city and officers.

“It’s time to silence the critics, police unions … cannot run the Phoenix Police Department,” he said.

City Manager Ed Zuercher, Garcia’s superior, said he was never asked about a two-year contract and directed Garcia to not hold the conference.

“This issue is about obeying orders,” Zuercher said. “This is about obeying a supervisor. That is the issue at hand here. That is why he was fired.”

“This issue is about obeying orders,” Zuercher said. “This is about obeying a supervisor. That is the issue at hand here. That is why he was fired.”
Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said he supports Zuercher’s decision.

“It couldn’t have been an easy choice, but it was the right choice,” he said, adding that he had no prior knowledge of the press conference.

Zuercher said he has “no idea” what Garcia was thinking by going through with the press conference. The former chief was notified in a letter that he was terminated.

DiCiccio said Garcia’s press conference was representative of his tenure as chief.

“He’s (Garcia) created a vindictive situation where he’s gone after individuals that didn’t agree with him and we’ve seen that in his policies and the way he handles things,” he said.

Garcia essentially signed his termination papers by holding the press conference.

“The press conference that he had literally set the stage for this own departure,” DiCiccio said. “That’s what he said. He literally said he’s going to leave. You don’t hold a press conference like he held and not expect to be fired.”

Last month, unions representing Phoenix police officers sought a vote of no confidence in Garcia.

“He is devoid of true leadership skills and has proven to be a tyrant and a bully who manages through threats, fear and intimidation,” Phoenix Law Enforcement Association President Joe Clure said at the time.

Garcia said the unions have not announced the results of the vote because it failed. Zuercher said Garcia’s termination had nothing to do with unions.

The unions allege Garcia has lost credibility with the officers in his charge, especially after one, diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, took his own life in early November.

“Crag Tiger was the final straw that broke the back of confidence and removed what little bit of morale was left on the department,” Mattson said. “But don’t get me wrong. This item is merely one of the many actions that this chief has manifested during his disastrous tenure since coming to the Phoenix Police Department.”

Tiger, a 12-year veteran of the force, was diagnosed with PTSD in 2012 after fatally shooting a suspect. He was fired in 2013 after being arrested for driving under the influence.

After Garcia was terminated, DiCiccio said he was through with the chief after Garcia seemingly bashing Tiger’s family in an interview.

“You cannot do that to our fallen heroes,” he said. “You don’t do those things. This was an attack on his family and that is unacceptable.”

Garcia said his tenure at the department was rough because of a lack of officers but he had made positive strides.

“The little bit of positive that he has done since he got here is far outweighed by the negative that he has done and the environment that currently exists in the Phoenix Police Department,” Mattson said.

Garcia was hired in March 2012. He was formerly an assistant police chief in Dallas. He has struggled for popularity since his arrival.

One of his most controversial decisions was asking officers to reaffirm their oath of office every January. Clure said there has been a rift between Garcia and officers from the beginning.

“The police chief has failed to make a connection with the rank and file police officers,” he said in 2013.

Last year, 93 percent of officers said they were dissatisfied with Garcia.

Joe Yahner will serve as the city’s interim chief. Yahner served as acting chief prior to Garcia’s hiring.

DiCiccio said the city has a big chore on its hands when it comes to naming the new chief.

“A police department can take your rights away — they can arrest you, they can detain you — there’s a lot of things you can do in there,” he said. “But if you have the wrong person in charge, you’re going to have someone that can be vindictive. The public doesn’t want to see that either.”

DiCiccio said the hiring process will likely take months.

KTAR’s Martha Maurer, Jim Cross and Sandra Haros and the Associated Press contributed to this report.