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Mesa police union votes 95% no confidence in Chief Batista

(KTAR News Photo/Griselda Zetino)

PHOENIX — The Mesa Police Association announced Wednesday morning that 95% of 564 officers surveyed say they do not have confidence in Chief Ramon Batista.

“He is no longer welcome in the Mesa Police Department. He is no longer welcome in our home and we would like him to leave,” the police union’s president Nate Gafvert said at a press conference.

The association has criticized the way Batista handled controversial use-of-force incidents and said in a February post the incidents were “wildly exaggerated and fueled by Chief Batista’s epic failure of leadership.”

“Chief Batista spared no expense to have these well-respected and decorated officers investigated and even criminally charged, which quickly failed, much to his embarrassment,” Gafvert said.

Gafvert said Batista prematurely convicted officers in the court of public opinion and destroyed morale in the organization, leading the union to hold the no confidence vote among sworn officers and staff last month.

“Unfortunately, Mayor John Giles and the majority of Mesa City Council have chosen to ignore the major issues with Chief Batista and allowed him to continue his reign of terror that has broken one of the best police departments in the country,” Gafvert said.

“We are now forced to publicly discuss all of our negative issues and rely on our great citizens to hold Mesa City Council accountable to remove Chief Batista.”

Batista issued a statement following the release of the results:

“The Mesa Police Department’s mission is and always has been to protect and serve the people of Mesa. We work together with City leaders and the community to prevent and reduce crime and to ensure justice by building trust, showing respect and preserving human rights.

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.

I am proud to serve the City of Mesa as the Police Chief and to lead the men and women of the Mesa Police Department.”

Wednesday evening, the Mesa City Council issued the following statement:

“Our priority is the safety of our residents. The City of Mesa is committed to improving communications within the Police Department, strengthening relationships and maintaining an open dialogue with employees, associations and their members. The Mayor and City Council look forward to working with all the members of the Mesa Police Department and the community to prevent and reduce crime. We are proud of these men and women and the work they do to be one of the best law enforcement agencies in the country.”

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Griselda Zetino contributed to this report.

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