One day after taking over the reigns on an interim basis, Acting Phoenix Police Chief Joe Yahner sat down with CBS 5 News Reporter Donna Rossi for a one on one interview.
DONNA: What changes if any do you plan to make?
YAHNER: What I plan to do for the next 60 days is just really focus on the positive things that Phoenix police department does. We do great police work every day. We're out on the street today, we're answering calls for service and we're taking care of our community and we're going to continue to do that and we're going to focus on the positives. Crime is down and things are going in the right direction and we're going to continue that and we're going to focus on the positives.
DONNA: Do you plan to make any changes? YAHNER: No. Just a reemphasis on our core police functions. The budget is an issue for us. We are doing more with less. We're working harder. We're working longer. We're trying to do it more effectively. We're trying to do it more efficiently. So, we're going to focus on our core responsibilities and that is to respond to calls for service, investigate those crimes, try to suppress crime and involve the community in how we handle problems and resolve problems.
DONNA: Is it fair to say that you're going to run the department similarly to how it's been run
YAHNER: I'm going to run the department as it has been run in the past and we're going to focus on positive police work and we're going to take care of business.
DONNA: There's been a lot of turmoil inside the dept how do you plan on addressing that
YAHNER: Through communication. As far as turmoil, quite frankly, there are a lot of good things, a lot of positive things going on in the department. And that's what we're going to focus on. So, when you say turmoil, I'm not sure I fully agree with you. Because we do a lot of good things and we are all on the same page we all wear the same uniform we all have the same core mission. The turmoil might be viewed from the outside as being significant but inside what I hear every day is we're continuing to do the job and we're doing it well and we're here to serve the community.
DONNA: Chief, you can't tell me that you're out of touch? Did you see the PPSLA survey and the significant dissatisfaction with leadership? So, there is turmoil within the department, as well.
YAHNER: Well, there is also resolution to your word turmoil. We meet on March 10th with PPSLA and their board. We met on February 25th, with them, just last week. We're engaged in an IBR process, which is a labor management process to where we come together for the good of the organization and the good of the community. So you view it as turmoil I view it as an opportunity for us to come together and do a better job.
DONNA: What will you do specifically regarding communication?
YAHNER: We're going to continue with our employee notification system. We're going to try to do everything possible to keep everybody on the same page, to provide them what information we can at the time and try to move forward and just remind everybody we're all on the same team. And we're going to move forward and take care of business and take care of our community.
DONNA: What will you do to improve morale?
YAHNER: All our employees are valued, civilian and sworn alike. We're all here to do one job and we just need to get that information out there. They know it. We're just going to try to make sure they hear it a little bit more often. They're doing a great job and we're proud of them. And you know what? The citizens of Phoenix ought to be proud of their Phoenix police department.
DONNA: What will you do to improve the public perception and public confidence in the Phoenix Police Department?
YAHNER: Again, just push information out. Push out what we do and how we do it. 99.9 percent of the stuff that we do is good. We're working hard, we're working with fewer men and women on the street, we're working with fewer sergeants and lieutenants, commanders and chiefs. And we're all trying to do the best we can under the circumstances. You know what? I'm confident in us and I'm confident in the Phoenix Police Department and we'll continue to do a good job.
DONNA. What is your take on the kidnapping issue and the numbers and statistics and the reassignment of Jack Harris?
YAHNER: You know, I've been asked by the city manager not to speak on that topic and I'm going to honor that request.
DONNA: Do you agree with the city overseeing the review of those numbers? Do you believe it should be handled by the city or do you believe an outside agency should handle it completely?
YAHNER: You know, none of that is within my purview or within something that I'm even concerned about. That's city management. That's their jobs. They can handle that. I'm going to focus on the residents of Phoenix and the Phoenix Police Department and make sure that we do our job because that's key and that's essential for our community.
DONNA: Do you expect your role as acting chief to be temporary?
DONNA: Would you like to see Jack Harris come back as chief of police?
DONNA: If the position becomes open will you apply?
YAHNER: You know, that's a big question and that is a bridge that is not yet crossed. We'll have to see what happens.
DONNA: What will your oversight be of the HIKE squad right now? (Home Invasion and Kidnapping Enforcement)
YAHNER: The HIKE squad? Nothing additional, nothing new today, that wasn't in place last week. The HIKE squad will continue to do their job. The Home Invasion and Kidnapping Task Force, we created them for a reason and they're going to continue to investigation those types of crimes and try to suppress those types of crimes for the betterment of the community.
DONNA: What do you say to the general public so they can believe what's going on within this Police department?
YAHNER: I say get involved. Bottom line is the community is our eyes and ears. Get involved. We have community action officers at every precinct and they're a phone call away. If you have a question about something going on in your community contact your community action officer. They'll be out within a day or two to talk to you, if not sooner within the hour. That's what we do. So, I say, get involved. Become part of the solution and we'll continue to work together with the community so that we can do our jobs more efficiently.
DONNA: Can you speak to or answer for me when you knew that the kidnapping statistics may be a little off compared to what they actually came out to be?
YAHNER: Again, Donna. I've been asked not to comment on that topic.
DONNA: Are you going to make any changes within upper management?
YAHNER: No, I don't plan to.
DONNA: After the 60 days, what is your expectation?
YAHNER: We'll have to see after 60 days.
DONNA: Is there anything else you would like to say to us.
YAHNER: We'd like your help in focusing on the positive aspects of the Phoenix Police Department because we do a great job and there's so many things out there that we could focus on - everything from crime suppressions, to community action officers, to the Special Olympics Torch Run. You name it, we do a lot of things in the community and we're very proud to be Phoenix police officers.
DONNA: Do you have confidence with the fact that the city is over seeing this review of these kidnapping statistics?
YAHNER: I have confidence in the city of Phoenix.
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