PHOENIX — Acting Police Chief Joseph Yahner has been named to the role permanently, Phoenix officials said Wednesday.
Yahner had been running the department after the firing of his predecessor, Daniel Garcia, in December. Yahner also previously served as acting chief for over a year before Garcia was
hired in 2012.
Garcia’s tenure was marked by clashes with the police officers’ union. City Manager Ed Zuercher
fired him for insubordination after he defied an order by Zuercher and held a
news conference to criticize his critics. Yahner said his management style is different from Garcia’s.
“The bottom line is I listen before I make decisions,” he told KTAR News’ Mac & Gaydos on Wednesday. “I know the department very well.”
Zuercher appointed Yahner, saying Yahner did well in leading
the department through the Super Bowl, working closely with Phoenix Fire and
Emergency Management as well as nearly every city department.
Yahner said the police department needs to improve officer training,
investigative follow-up and police presence on the streets.
Mayor Greg Stanton called Yahner an outstanding law enforcement professional
who has done a tremendous job while serving as chief on an interim basis.
Several City Council members also welcomed the choice.
Councilman Michael Nowakowski, chair of the council’s public safety and
veterans subcommittee, said Yahner has a track record of working with residents,
community organizations and city departments to solve problems.
Joe Clure, president of the police officers’ union, said the appointment of
Yahner would provide “some stability and some calmness.”
Vice Mayor Jim Waring also praised Yahner, but said he is concerned about the hire as Yahner will retire in 2016.
“I do fear that there might be a little bit of thinking more of what the future’s going to bring as opposed to just what’s going on in the here and now,” he said. “That would be a concern. It may not have a lot of great validity, but it is a concern that I do have.”
Yahner confirmed Waring’s fears, but said there is a silver lining.
“My goal is, when the next chief comes in, we’ll be operating smooth,” he said, adding that his retirement should allow for a clean transition to the new chief.
Yahner, a Phoenix native, has been with the department for 30 years.
KTAR’s Bob McClay and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
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